Lesson 12: “The Gathering of My People” #DandC2017

Did you know that I was originally supposed to do last week’s lesson (“The Field is White Already to Harvest”)? But I was traveling in India with my wife and couldn’t get around to it in time, so Stapley did it instead. So if you were not pleased with that lesson’s write-up, you should think long and hard about whether I am to blame or whether Stapley is to blame. If you also hate this week’s write-up, then maybe you should think about getting your lesson write-ups elsewhere.

The purpose of this week’s lesson:

“To help class members understand how latter-day Israel was gathered in the early days of the Church, how it is being gathered today, and how they can participate in this gathering.”

I don’t really like the word “gathering” here, because it makes me think about foraging–like we’re searching for latter-day Israel under rocks or something. I’ve been playing a lot of Stardew Valley lately, and a big part of that game involves wandering around town, the forest, the mountains, and other scenic realms foraging for hazelnuts, blackberries, dandelions, and all sorts of other edible (or otherwise) fare. As you collect more experience (i.e., spend more time playing the game), you get better and better at foraging. But even when you’ve become a master forager, the number of berries and crap you can find in a given day is still pretty dang small. You can make way more money raising cows and chickens and growing agricultural products on your farm. All of these goods can then be used to provide services for the residents of Stardew Valley, which helps you progress and build close friendships with them–all of which is the point of the game. AND THE PURPOSE OF LIFE.

So I guess what I’m saying here is that we should abolish the missionary program–foraging, basically–and move on to cloning little Mormon babies who can be used to run errands, do our home teaching, and earn friendship hearts with the local folks.

“Read D&C 29:1–2, 7–8 with class members. What can we learn from these verses about the purposes of the gathering? How is being gathered into the Lord’s Church a blessing in your life?

I hate it when lesson manuals tell you to read some of the scriptures, but not all of the scriptures. “Read the first two verses. But skip the next four verses. DON’T READ THEM! DO NOT LET YOUR CLASS READ THEM! THINK OF THE CHILDREN! Don’t ask why, don’t peek, just move on to verse 7!”  Even when you click on the link in the lesson manual, the link is hypercoded to highlight only the verses you’re supposed to read on LDS.org. What are the nameless, faceless people behind Big Manual trying to hide here? Let’s find out!

1 Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I Am, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins;

2 Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer.

Okay, brace yourself for the good stuff…

3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that at this time your sins are forgiven you, therefore ye receive these things; but remember to sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you.

Huh. I don’t quite see the big deal–why can’t we read this part? Let’s keep going…

4 Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.

GAH! Trump! I apologize! The manual was just trying to save us all from discovering that the Groper is destined to lead us all in rejoicing as the gospel rolls forth.

5 Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.

It’s hard to lift up my heart and be glad after reading verse 4, tbh. I really wish the manual had warned me or something.

“Explain that between January and May 1831, most Church members in New York sold, rented, or left their farms and made the 300-mile journey to Ohio.”

That may not seem like a lot, but you’re probably forgetting to take inflation into account. Keep in mind that 300 miles in 1831 is like 14,000 in today’s miles. It was even further for those who measured their journey in kilometers.

“You may want to explain that although the center place of Zion will be in Missouri, Zion will eventually spread over all the earth. President Brigham Young said:

‘When Joseph [Smith] first revealed the land where the Saints should gather, a woman in Canada asked if we thought that Jackson County would be large enough to gather all the people. … I will answer the question. … Zion will extend, eventually, all over this earth. There will be no nook or corner upon the earth but what will be in Zion. It will all be Zion. …

‘We are going to gather as many as we can, bless them, give them their endowments, etc., preach to them the truth, lay the principles of eternal life before them, inform their minds all we have power to do, and lead them into the path of truth and righteousness’ (in Journal of Discourses, 9:138).”

I am glad the call to gather in Utah ended and that Brigham here is artfully walking back the notion that we all have to move to Missouri. I wouldn’t want to live in Utah or in Missouri, and I especially wouldn’t want to live there if everyone else did, too. I’m sure some of you have been to India before, and most of you probably already know this from talking with other people who have been there, but holy crap, there are a lot of people there! It’s a crowded place, and it really does your head in, even if you know it’s coming and expect it to be crowded. Spending time in India strengthened my testimony of personal space. I believe with every fiber of my being in not touching hips and butts and elbows with every fiber of my being.

“Early on Sunday morning, 24 October 1841, Elder Hyde ascended the Mount of Olives and offered a prayer. In his prayer he dedicated and consecrated the land ‘for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy Prophets—for the building up of Jerusalem again … and for rearing a Temple in honor of [the Lord’s] name.’ He also prayed that the Lord would remember the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob forever and ‘give them this land for an everlasting inheritance’ (History of the Church, 4:456).”

The story of Orson Hyde dedicating Jerusalem is well-known in the Church. I don’t remember when I first heard it, but it seems like one of those stories I’ve always known. But somehow I had never heard about this part:

“As a witness of the deed, Elder Hyde erected a pile of stones on the top of the Mount of Olives. He also erected a pile of stones ‘on what was anciently called Mount Zion [possibly Mount Moriah], where the Temple stood’ (History of the Church, 4:459).”

That’s two piles of stones! Do you think Orson Hyde was all alone on the mountains when he did this? Or were there other people milling about and wondering what the weird white dude was up to? “I don’t know what he’s up to, Rebecca! Just keep moving and stop staring!” I wonder how big the piles were. Were they just like little stacks of pebbles? Did he hire some people to haul up huge boulders? How long did the piles remain in tact before some jerk came along and tipped them over? Probably a boy scout leader.

Enjoy Sunday school this week, folks!


  1. Exceptional. I don’t know what Dehlin is going on about when he says BCC lacks influence, because this post is influencing the crap out of me right now.

  2. I’m as confused as you are, Steve. I anticipate that every gospel doctrine lesson across the globe will more or less follow this write-up.

  3. I especially love this line from Orson Hyde’s dedicatory prayer: “Accept, therefore, O Lord, the tribute of a grateful heart for all past favors, and be pleased to continue Thy kindness and mercy towards a needy worm of the dust.”

    Though I actually prefer Winston Churchill’s description of our status in relation to that of the Almighty: “We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm.”

  4. Scott is so naturally spirichul that he channels Jeremiah:

    “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.”

  5. I’m just now realizing that I missed a great chance to talk about The Expanse! My wife and I have been watching and loving that show lately, and a subplot in the show involves a contingent of super-faithful Mormons building a giant Angel-Moroni-capped spaceship (dubbed the LDSS Nauvoo) in order to establish a new existence in some far-away space world. At one point in the show, a member of the Mormon group tries to church the main police character with a copy of the Book of Mormon and promises of finding a place in God’s plan.

    This all would have fit very well in a discussion of gathering God’s people.

  6. No greater call…thanks for sharing your invaluable insights, Scott.

  7. Scott B. says:

    I like to think that my mission in posting is two-fold:
    First, I want to spread profound gospel knowledge.
    Second, I want to see how badly I can goof around before Stapley throws something at me.

  8. Scott B. says:

    Also, doing my part to dispel John Dehlin’s take on BCC as a haven of intellectuals.

  9. A cynical outsider might see “gathering” in the Mormon tradition as a series of prophetic failures rationalized with the Mormon standard “that was then, this is now” living prophet narrative. Notwithstanding an effort to “badly goof around”, the OP seems like a nice light-touch way to open that discussion. But more important, by far, is that I got a chuckle out of it. Therefore all’s right with the world.

  10. I just finished composing the lesson and will teach it soon. I appreciate your fun commentary, but I was really amazed at what I learned about the gathering as intertwined with the Church’s part in it. My testimony of Joseph Smith was strengthened as I saw the intricacies of prophecies, callings, actions and history unfold.

  11. Scott B and J. Stapley, thanks for the last two posts. I dont have to check BCC for GD lesson links anymore. No, really. I genuinely appreciate it. Nobody could ever justifiably fault me for not linking BCC after these two gems. Scott, you should do a post about “Reasons why I dont attend Gospel Doctrine, Ranked” post. Or have you already done that?

  12. Scott: I will pay you $50 if you bear your testimony in Gospel Doctrine this Sunday that you “believe with every fiber of my being in not touching hips and butts and elbows.” The people of your Ward need to hear about this important Gospel principle. Do it.

  13. “Also, doing my part to dispel John Dehlin’s take on BCC as a haven of intellectuals.”

    You have succeeded brilliantly! I say that with admiration. Thank you for a hearty laugh on a day when I especially needed one.

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