What is a covenant? In the Church, a covenant is a mutual promise that we make with Heavenly Father. To covenant means to “come together,” or to be bound together by promises. Sometimes it is a promise that we make in our hearts. Even when we make a covenant in our hearts with Heavenly Father, there are things we do to show that we have made those promises.
Baptism is the occasion for one of the first covenants we make with Him. Being baptized shows that we want to keep His commandments. Some of the promises we make when we are baptized are that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we will always remember Him, and that we will keep His commandments. The Lord promises us that He will give us His Spirit to always be with us.
Think about just the first part of our baptismal covenant. What do you think it means to take His name upon us? Most of us already have two names. We have a given name, like Elizabeth, or Marco, or Mei-Li; and we have a family name, like Smith, or Garcia, or Chen. When we take the name of Jesus Christ upon ourselves, it means we are part of His family. We are ready to be known as Christians. We are willing to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). We want to act like Christ and follow Him.
Jesus has given us guidelines to help us follow Him. He expects us to love each other, to bear one another’s burdens, to mourn with those who are sad, and to comfort those who need comfort. That’s what He did when He was on the earth. If we want to be called by His name, we will try to do these things, too. When you help your mother tend the baby so that she can fix dinner, you are bearing another’s burdens. When you put your arm around your little brother and tell him that you’re sorry that he hurt himself, you are giving comfort. When your heart is sad because your friend’s father is very ill, and you reach out to her in love, you are mourning along with her.
Each week when we take the sacrament, we renew the covenant we made at baptism. Each day as we choose the right and follow Jesus, we are keeping our covenant and growing in faith. As we keep the covenant we have made, the Lord’s Spirit will be with us, and one day we will be worthy to go to the temple and make other very important covenants with Heavenly Father.
Instructions: Make a “movie” of your life-to-be. Mount page 44 on heavy paper, fill in the blank, cut out the display frame and two picture strips, then tape Picture A over Picture B (if you’re a girl; vice versa, if you’re a boy). Cut the two dashed-line slots in the display frame. Insert the left side of the picture strip from behind into the right slot and then into the left slot. (Optional: You may now want to tape the left edge of the title picture to the right edge of the last picture to make a continuous reel.) Pull the strip or reel through the display frame to show your personal story.
My Faith in Jesus Christ Grows When I Make and Keep Sacred Covenants
Make a Movie of Your Personal Story
I, ________________________, covenant with the Lord when …
(write your name)
I am baptized.
I take the sacrament.
I go to the temple.
(Note: CS = Children’s Songbook)
1. Have a child hold up a piece of an athletic uniform. Ask: “What do you promise when you become part of a team?” (You will come to practice, you will come to games, you will do your best, you will be a good sport.) Have an older child come up; role-play inviting her [or him] to baby-sit. Then ask: “What can I expect from her when she agrees to baby-sit for me?” (Promptness; care of children; following your rules regarding phone calls, eating your food, etc.) “What do I promise her?” (To get her home on time, provide a safe place to work, pay her.) Role-play contracting a lawn-mowing job (or a paper-delivery job) with another child. Discuss the implicit promises. Ask 2 eight-year-old Scouts to recite the Cub Scout promise. If you are in the United States, ask 3 older children to stand and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. Ask the children to show you other things they do to show that they have made a promise. (Shake hands to confirm a deal, say “I promise,” sign a check, raise the right hand to sustain someone in a calling, take an oath in a court of law, etc.) Say: “We are going to talk about one of the most important promises, or covenants, you will ever make—the covenant of baptism.” Show Primary manual pictures 2–19 and 2–20. Write on the chalkboard and ask: “What do we promise the Lord?” Give one of the following wordstrips cut up into words to each of 3 helpers: 1. Take upon us the name of His Son / 2. Always remember Him / 3. Keep His commandments which He has given us. Have the helpers post the words in correct order under “What do we promise the Lord?” Now write and ask: “What does the Lord promise us?” Have a helper put the wordstrip (cut up into words) We may always have His spirit to be with us in order, and post them under “What does the Lord promise us?” Next, ask: “What do we promise when we are baptized?” “What does the Lord promise us?” “Why do these words sound familiar?” Every week when we take the sacrament, we renew our baptismal covenant. These words are familiar because they are part of the sacrament prayer. There are three other things the Lord promises us when we are baptized (post the wordstrips): Membership in His church, Forgiveness of our sins, and Salvation in His kingdom. Review the things discussed earlier about making promises. Conclude with Primary manual pictures of a modern baptism (2–20) and the sacrament (3–59). Share your witness of the importance of the covenant of baptism. For younger children: See Primary 2 manual, Lesson 12. Focus on preparing for baptism by following Jesus in learning to pray, be loving, be forgiving, choose the right, etc. Talk about thinking about Jesus during the sacrament.
2. Put the letters that spell baptism on the reverse side of the pictures listed below (from the Primary manual kits [numbers with dashes] or the Gospel Art Picture Kit [3-digit numbers]), one letter on each picture. Scramble the pictures and lean them against the chalkboard. Invite a child to choose a picture he knows about or wants to know about. Let him tell something about the baptism of the person in the picture if he can, and you mention any other important details. Then have him post the letter in the correct place for spelling baptism on the chalkboard. Pictures and stories: • 5–56 / Adam is baptized (Moses 6:50–52, 64–66) • 2–19 / Jesus is baptized (Matt. 3:13–17) • 7–39 / Peter and the other Apostles baptize 3000 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 14, 22–23, 32, 36–41) • 3–48 / Alma baptizes at the waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:5–16) • 316 / Jesus Christ instructs the Nephites about baptism (3 Ne. 11:19–26) • 6–52 / Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery pray to know about baptism (Primary 5 manual, Lesson 8, and JS—H 1:68–72) • 509 / Wilford Woodruff teaches in England; the constable sent to arrest him is baptized (Primary 5 manual, Lesson 29, pp. 161–162). As you talk about these great stories, emphasize the importance of being baptized as the Savior was, by immersion and by the proper authority. We are following Him when we are baptized. Sing both verses of “When Jesus Christ Was Baptized” (CS, p. 102).
3. Tell the story of Alma teaching the people at the waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:5–11). Discuss what it means to “be called his people [i.e., to take His name upon us],” “bear one another’s burdens,” “mourn with those that mourn,” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18: 8–9). Bring a backpack and some rocks to which are attached problem situations (see below). Line the rocks up on a table. Put a rock into the backpack as you name each of several burdens or causes to mourn (new in town, illness, etc.). Have a child lift the backpack. Ask 2 others to help him, and ask: “Is it lighter now?” Explain that Jesus Christ helps bear our burdens, mourns with us, and comforts us when we need comfort. He has asked us to do the same for each other. Have a child pull a rock out of the backpack, read the situation attached to it, and explain what he would do if he was trying to follow Jesus (i.e., he had taken Jesus’ name upon him). Possible situations (write situations that apply to the children in your Primary): • Your dad is weeding the garden, and a friend asks for his help to move some furniture. What could you do? • Your mom is putting away groceries, and the baby wakes up and needs tending. What could you do? • Your friend has missed 3 days of school because of a broken leg. What could you do? • The new boy in your class has no one to eat lunch with. What could you do? • Your neighbor is on vacation; newspapers are piling up on his porch. What could you do? • The older lady next door can’t read the newspaper very well. What could you do? • Your friend’s parents are getting a divorce. What could you do to help your friend? • Your friend’s mother is very sick and has to go to the hospital. What could you do?
4. Memorize John 3:5. Give each class a card. On one side, write Baptism. On the other side, write one of the questions below and its references. Have the classes search their scriptures, determine the answers, and share them with the rest of Primary. Questions and references (the answers are in brackets [ ] for you): • Who must be baptized? (Topical Guide—Baptism, Essential / especially John 3:5) [all people must be baptized, except little children] • Why should I be baptized? (Topical Guide—Baptism / especially Mark 1:4; Mark 16:16; Matt. 3:15) [for remission of sins, to be saved in the kingdom of God, to show obedience] • How should I be baptized? (Topical Guide—Baptism, Immersion; A of F 1:4; 3 Ne. 11:25) [by immersion, by proper authority] • When can I be baptized? (Topical Guide—Baptism, Qualifications for; D&C 68:25) [I should have faith in the Lord, repent, be ready to make the baptismal covenant, and be at least 8 years old] • What do I promise at baptism? (D&C 20:77; Mosiah 18:7–10; Mosiah 21:35) [take His name upon me, keep His commandments, always remember Him, be willing to serve Him, help others]. Sing “When I Am Baptized” (CS, p. 103). For younger children: Have the teachers look up the references and help the children understand the answers and share the information with the Primary. Have an older child (or class) who has been baptized share the experience with the younger children.
5. “My Gospel Standards” (on the back of the “My Achievement Days” booklet) are wonderful guidelines to help us follow Jesus Christ and live to be worthy to go to the temple. Select 6 to 7 that your Primary children might need to work on. Write each standard on a separate card. Also write on separate cards situations in which a Gospel Standard can be applied. Play “Concentration” by scrambling each set of cards and turning them against the chalkboard, then having a child turn over one of each set to get a match. Post the matches together. Possible situations for Gospel Standards (GS): • My friend’s brother likes really loud music, and the words are awful. He said he’d lend me his CDs. [GS—“I will only listen to music that is pleasing to Heavenly Father.”] • A girl in my class at school is taking us all to the circus for her birthday party next Sunday. [GS—“I will do those things on the Sabbath that will help me feel close to Heavenly Father.”] • Sam dropped a bunch of money, and I helped him pick it up. He’ll probably never miss these two coins. [GS—“I will be honest with Heavenly Father, others, and myself.”] • I love to be with my friends from Primary. They are so nice to me. [GS—“I will seek good friends and treat others kindly.”] • When my friends play games, they sometimes swear or use rude language. [GS—“I will use the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus reverently. I will not swear or use crude words.”] • I love to visit the temple in our area and walk around the grounds [or I love to see pictures of all the beautiful temples]. It makes me want to live worthily so I can go inside someday. [GS—“I will live now to be worthy to go to the temple and serve a mission. I will follow Heavenly Father’s plan for me.] Sing “Come, Follow Me” (Hymns, no. 116) or “I Love to See the Temple” (CS, p. 95). For younger children: Put a picture or colored border on the situations and matching GS cards (e.g., coins on both cards about honesty, or a red border around matching cards).
6. Additional Friend resources: baptism—“Baptism, My First Covenant,” May 1997, p. 12; the sacrament—“Keep the Commandments,” June 1999, pp. 44–46; covenants—“Keeping My Promise,” Aug. 1998, p. 12; the temple—the 1993 CSMP was “I Love to See the Temple.” If you have a temple in your area, plan a Sharing Time about the important blessings that come to us by having a temple close by.