Last Official Day of Seminary

I was positively giddy when the kids left this morning after our very last official class of the year, but now I’m feeling a little sad. I can now understand when teachers say how hard it is when you get released from Seminary teaching. I can honestly say I’ve never felt sad about having a calling wrap up before. Someday I’ll be released — maybe even before next year — but I hope not. :)

I’ve got 4 students who need to come in next week to make up some tardies and absences before Seminary graduation next Sunday, but other than that, I’m finished. I am excited to start on the reading chart for New Testament and to get finished with the next year. I asked the kids to take their scriptures home with them so they could transfer any markings we made during class into the set of scriptures they regularly use. That serves two purposes: 1) they will look over what we covered or they marked during class and can review — and hopefully feel the spirit again, and 2) having your scriptures marked in one place makes it much easier to find what you’re trying to find.

I entered the last of the student data into CSTAR and into the AnnoyinglyHugeSeminaryThingie spreadsheet, and I am in shock. The kids increased their reading percentages again this quarter. They are awesome. Admittedly, it was from 90% to 91%, but it’s still awesome. In fact, that percentage would have been about 94% if 2 boys hadn’t missed 7 days due to a vacation. Reading percentages have steadily increased throughout the year. I know I keep harping on it, but keeping the kids together for reading has really, really made a difference. An increase in participation has to mean something good. I hope that it means they are developing a habit and love of the scriptures. Studying the gospel isn’t painful — it’s wonderful. I hope they are getting it.

I am already excited to get going on next year’s material. I will have to miss 3 weeks early on (15th wedding anniversary cruise).

All right, here’s what we did the last few days of class:

Haggai 1

This lesson, I used the material in the manual. There wasn’t much. I wrote on the board: All roads lead to _____. and let them fill in the blank on a sheet of paper. They called out answers, and then I read to them the Boyd K Packer quote in the manual that all gospel roads should lead to the temple.

I did the lesson in the Student Study Guide for Haggai 1.

What did Haggai say were the consequences of delaying building the temple? (see Haggai 1:6, 9–11 ). Consider the effect of the temple covenants, ordinances, and blessings on every part of our lives. What do you think it means to put your wages “into a bag with holes”?

What does Haggai 1:4–6 tell about the priority of the temple in the lives of the people?

I think I went verse by verse and explained a few things, too. This was a fast lesson, but I filled up time at the beginning having the kids finish up their Magic Squares blank and by doing some housekeeping stuff related to Seminary graduation and makeup work.

Zechariah 10, 14

The kids had asked to do Zechariah 5 on this day (the flying roll), but when I looked at that, there wasn’t much of anything to teach. I put it off until our free day.

I had the kids clean up their cubbies today. My student who memorized all 25 scripture masteries picked out a CTR ring.

I split this reading into 3 main categories, and assigned each student a scripture or two to read aloud and tell us what that had to do with the overall topic. This was a fast way to cover lots of material while still keeping the discussion active.

ON GATHERING
10:3-4 – Jesus comes from Judah
10:8 – I call and gather and they increase
10:9 – remember me in far countries

ON JESUS CHRIST
I asked the kids why these prophecies were important for Jewish people to know:
9:9 – Messiah to come riding on an ass
11:12-13 – sold for 30 pieces of silver
13:6 – his hands are wounded

ON THE SECOND COMING
These are from the manual, page 214. I only used a few.
12:2–3 Jerusalem withstands the siege.
12:4 Her enemies are cursed with insanity.
12:10–11 The Jews recognize Jesus “whom they have pierced.”
13:1 A fountain is opened to cleanse the people.
13:2–5 Idols are cut off and false prophets cease.
13:7–9 The shepherd is cut off; two thirds of the people die.
14:1–2 All nations gather against Jerusalem.
14:3 The Lord fights for Jerusalem.
14:4–5 Christ stands on the Mount of Olives, which splits in two.
14:6–7 A strange light appears.
14:8 Living waters go from Jerusalem.
14:9 –11 The Lord is king; Israel is at peace.
14:12–15 A plague consumes Israel’s enemies.
14:16 –19 All nations worship at Jerusalem.
14:20 –21 Bells and pots are inscribed “Holiness unto the Lord.”

The kids liked the zombie bit in 14:12-15.

I pointed out that each of these successive minor prophets is adding little by little to our understanding of the second coming and of Jesus Christ. The information doesn’t come all at once, but builds on other prophecies gradually until we have a pretty good understanding of what to expect.

Malachi 3, 4

This could have been two lessons, but I’m glad I did it as one. A good way would have been to do it as one lesson, with a second day of scripture mastery to learn both the passages in these chapters.

On the board, I wrote ELIAS. We read Malachi 3:1, BD, Elias, and Matthew 11:7-11 and JST Matthew 17:10-14 to find out who some eliases were. I explained being able to recognize what an elias is would help them in their later scripture study.

Next I had the kids underline in their scriptures the blessings of paying tithing listed in verses 7-12. We read those out. I asked the kids how failing to pay tithes and offerings was robbing God.

After a very brief discussion, I moved them to Malachi 4:1 and cross-referenced that with D&C 64:23-25.

I taught them something that a religion teacher taught me at BYU about how these chapters relate to each other:
no tithing –> no temple recommend –> no temple –> no sealing –> no roots/branches (becoming as stubble, or no parents or posterity in the hereafter)

We read verse 4 and talked about Horeb being the place where the people were reminded of the 10 commandments and Abrahamic Covenant.

I told the kids that verses 5-6 are quoted or paraphrased in all four standard works. This is the only passage of scripture that is included in all four standard works. It’s very important. We read vv 5-6 and cross referenced it with D&C 110:13-16 and D&C 16-17. I talked about our Passover dinner and the part Elijah plays in it. We talked about how important these verses are and what they mean. It’s about gathering everyone and sealing them together in a chain that leads to Heavenly Father. It’s the culmination of the gospel: sealing.

I planned to read the quote by Joseph Fielding Smith on page 194 in the manual and then a bit of Proclamation to the World as sugested in the manual, but I ran out of time. Instead I bore my testimony both of tithing and sealing. I think it went pretty well.

Last Two Days

On the last two days, we were mostly housekeeping. Our ward historian had asked for the Seminary kids to write what they got out of Seminary this year down to go in the ward history, so we spent several minutes on that. While they were writing, we chatted. At about a quarter to, I covered the information I had on Zechariah 5 (from the Institute Manual) and showed them that that particular chapter had not been quoted in any General Conference since 1942, nor does it appear in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith or Journal of Discourses (see http://scriptures.byu.edu/). It’s probably not all that important was my point, but I didn’t say it out loud :)

I also covered the symbolism of Daniel 7 they had asked for earlier. The person we made for the vision in Daniel 2 was still on the wall, so I used it to show how the beasts represented the kingdoms, and the 10 toes/kingdoms/horns. I explained about the anti-Christ and we had a very brief discussion of that. It’s interesting to watch their faces when I change from chatty silly to Gospel 420. :) They understand it, but I think it’s a new idea to most of them that you can have a good time and talk about the gospel, too.

Today the kids brought in food to share, and we played Stump the Chump. I had the kids write up some questions from the Old Testament to stump me. Several kids stumped me. They had been waiting all week to play Stump the Chump, so that was fun. We watched a bit more of Prince of Egypt, ate our food, and we broke up for the day. Several kids were sad to leave and wanted to come back during makeup week. I’m glad they like the feelings they get at Seminary, and I hope they aren’t associating it with me, but with their gospel study.