Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Thought about Jesus--Luke 12:13

"And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." Luke 12:13 

Our family's been reading the gospel of Luke lately, moving kind of slowly because we stop a lot to draw attention to things we think our kids might be in a position to benefit from grappling with.

Like: tonight we got to the verse above, where someone asks Jesus to get involved in an inheritance dispute (which, at the time, would have been covered under religious law and therefore a reasonable thing to ask Jesus about). This felt like the kind of passage that would probably go over the kids' heads if we just read it, but that they might be able to relate to if we slowed down.

"What's an inheritance?" I asked.

They had no idea, so I explained that they'll get our stuff when we die. Simple enough.

I turned to Kira to get it to the next step of relatability. "Let's say that after Mama and I die," I said, "Elijah tells you he gets the upstairs of this house--because his room used to be there--and you get the downstairs, because your room used to be there. What do you think of that?"

This would mean, Nicole pointed out, that Kira would get the laundry room while Elijah would get the kitchen.

Kira grasped the significance of this. "That's not fair!" she said.

I figured that would be enough to help Kira sympathize with the man in the story. She'd see why he wanted Jesus to intervene on his behalf. "So let's say you went to Jesus and told him about the problem," I said. "What would he tell you to do?"

Kira didn't even hesitate. "He would tell us to work it out," she said.  

Those of you who know this story know that is, in essence, what Jesus said. He refused to get involved, and taught about the underlying dangers of envy instead of offering a ruling. Kira was right--I had just hoped to surprise her with Jesus' teachings the same way the people at the time were so often surprised by him. The same way that I, as an adult who has heard stories of Jesus countless times, continue to be surprised by him.

But a ruined lesson plan isn't a ruined lesson. Maybe I could learn something from Kira and something about Kira from the exchange. "How did you know that?" I asked.

"Because I know Jesus," she said.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Remembering Olivas Aoy

At my work, writing for, I get to help script about two short videos a year. Just after I got hired, we did a telling of the Dutch Potato Project story that's been used widely in welfare settings over the past year. Next, we did a piece on how sister missionary work got started which they now play in the MTC.

And then, two days ago, we released "Unto the Least of These: Olivas Aoy's School."

Olivas Aoy reached a population others had overlooked.
Like the others, it is fundamentally a pioneer story: Aoy makes significant personal sacrifices to start something important and new. In his case, though, the most striking project is not something inside the Church. It's founding the first school for Spanish-speaking students in El Paso, Texas, at a time when he's the only Latter-day Saint there.

It's a kind of pioneer story I wish we told more often. Latter-day Saints are famously willing to pitch in and help on projects our wards organize, but we could do better at learning to see needs and step up on our own.

And we could do better at developing and following our own visions of what the gospel means. At a time when many people saw Mormons as strange and backward, Olivas Aoy saw "the Christ of progress" in the restored gospel and committed his life the rest of his life to that vision. At a time when the Church was too occupied by its conflict with the U.S. government to start new programs, Aoy was willing to go out on his own trying to be an instrument in realizing God's promises as he understood them.

I don't know how widely this video will be seen. It doesn't have the same easy-to-categorize Church use as last year's videos on welfare and missionary work, or our upcoming video about temple. But maybe in the age of the internet, individual people will be able to find, share, and spread the story of this one individual's work to serve his Lord.


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