Monday, March 26, 2012

Daughters in my Kingdom-The First Women of Relief Society

Last Friday night, we had our celebration of the 170th anniversary of the founding of Relief Society. Traditionally many wards/branches focus on the founding and organization of the first Relief Society in 1842.  But many months earlier, as I was beginning to read the new "Daughters in my Kingdom" book, I was so touched by the first chapter, and strongly impressed that I wanted to write a program honoring and remembering those early sister disciples of Jesus Christ in the New Testament Days.

We tried to recreate, as much as possible in the 21st century, the feeling of being in those early days of the Church. As the sisters entered, we dressed them in fabric, trying to emulate the type of dress those sisters wore.

We sat on the floor and ate olives, pita bread, fruits and vegetables and tried to recreate the feeling of what it would have been like to be a woman in those early days.
We had a table for those who find it difficult to sit on the floor.
We had a talented member recreate, in cardboard, a backdrop of an ancient city.
 But the most important thing I wanted to convey, was the strong faith and commitment of those early sisters. As I read the book, I studied the references on each woman mentioned, and continued to search for more.
 So often there were only a few sentences written about each sister, but the meaning was clear.
So many of them are not mentioned by name, but we know they are remembered by the Lord
We learned about Anna, who was widowed at a very young age, but served in the temple for many years and was blessed to be called a prophetess, because she witnessed and bore testimony that the infant Jesus was the Christ.
We learned of the woman at the well, who met Christ and who was the first person who hear Him testify that he was the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
We learned about the great faith of the woman with the issue of blood, who believed Christ could heal her just by touching the hem of his robe.
 We learned about Tabitha, who probably was a woman of means, as she made clothing and shared with the poor. Because of the faith of her sisters, when she died, Peter raised her from the dead.
 We learned of Priscilla, who, with her husband served as missionaries at great danger to their own lives, and offered their home as a center for Paul the apostle.
 We learned of the faith and testimony of Lydia, who opened her home to Paul after he was released from prison and nurtured him and cared for his physical needs, probably helping him recover from the effects of imprisonment.
 We learned of Lois, who taught her grandson, Timothy, with his mother, Eunice, from the scriptures. He became a great missionary for the Lord. As it was unusual for women to be able to read in those days, what a great and valiant spirit she was to be able to teach her grandson!
 We learned about Rhoda, the young girl who was in a home praying for the safety of Peter, who was imprisoned. After his miraculous release from prison, it was she who answered the door at his knocking and ran to tell the others of the good news!
 We met Damaris, who had great faith and a strong testimony even those all around her were mocking and disbelieving.
 Eunice, the mother of Timothy, one of the first converts of Paul. Scholars believe she was married to a Greek, and so she had great faith to follow the Savior and teach her son from the scriptures.
We met Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and her great faith in bearing and raising her son in her old age.

There was an amazing spirit of love and gratitude for these faithful women, so many of them unknown but who will always be remembered for their strength during great trials. It is not known what became of them, but I am sure their lives were difficult and probably many of them were martyred. What a great example they are of faith and dedication to their Savior, Jesus Christ.

I believe that these are the first women of Relief Society. They created a pattern of service which was restored again in 1842, under the direction of priesthood keys.  May we (I)  honor their memory-by following their example of their faith, commitment and love for the Lord.


Reno said...

Wonderful! That was a terrific idea (inspiration) to celebrate Relief Society.

Amy said...

That is so neat. I didn't know a lot of those stories. Such a great idea to honor those often unknown women.