Help the family appreciate the love of our Heavenly Father for us in sending his Beloved Son to the world to redeem us from sin and death.
FOR THE PARENT
Our Heavenly Father loves each one of us because we are actually his children, not merely one of his creations. Because of his love, he sent us to earth to grow and progress. But on earth he knew there would be many dangers. By sinning we would cut ourselves off from our heavenly home and by dying we would be separated from our physical bodies. Heavenly Father, in his great love, sent his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue us from sin and death and to make it possible for us to return to him (see Abraham 3:27).
Imagine how hard it must have been for Heavenly Father to see Jesus suffer so terribly. But he allowed it because of his love for us and his desire for us to progress. Help each member of your family come to appreciate the love Heavenly Father has for us.
Prepare the following wordstrips: “Map,” “Means of transportation,” “Money,” “Stamps,” “Clothing,” and “Books.” Distribute the wordstrips among members of the family before you start family home evening.
Bring a chalkboard and chalk or a large piece of paper and a marker.
Be prepared to show the picture of Jesus and the children from lesson 36, “He Is Risen!”
Provide a paper and crayon for each child.
SUGGESTED HYMN AND SONG
“God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son” (Hymns,
“I Thank Thee, Dear Father” (Children’s Songbook, p.
Heavenly Father Loves His Children
Ask the family members to pretend that you are going to send them away to school. Tell them that you love them and will miss them but that this additional schooling will be for their good and will help them progress. Explain that you will provide what they need to take them there, keep them while at school, and bring them back when school is over.
Have the family members display, one at a time, the wordstrips representing the items you will give them. As each wordstrip is shown, discuss with them what would happen if they did not take care of that item and use it properly. Contrast this with what would happen if they did use wisely what you have provided.
In which case could you probably complete school successfully and return home?
Tell them that a long time ago, before any of us can remember, we were in a similar situation. We lived in heaven with our Heavenly Father.
What happened there that was similar to what we have pretended?
Let your family discuss the Council in Heaven as they answer this question (see
Help your family imagine the great love Heavenly Father had for his family as he gathered them together and presented his plan. He planned to send us to earth where we could inherit a body, learn, grow, and return to him.
Describe your love, as parents, for your children. They are your actual physical offspring. Talk about how you cared for their every need while they were small, taught them to walk and talk, and how you now try to provide for them in every way. Express sincerely your feelings that the greatest reward you could receive in life is to have them become valiant members of the Church and that the greatest reward you could ask for after this life is to be together with them as a family.
Compare this to how Heavenly Father feels about us. We are his actual spiritual children, and he loves us as our heavenly parent.
Read Moses 1:39 to show that Heavenly Father’s main goal or objective is to help us return to him.
Emphasize that when Heavenly Father sent us here, he wanted to give us all the help he could so that we could be successful in our earthly journey.
Read the following parts of Abraham 3:23–25, and have your family listen for what Heavenly Father planned to give us to help us make the most of our schooling and return to him:
“And God saw these souls that they were good. …
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”
As your family members discover what Heavenly Father has given us, list them on the chalkboard or poster; for example, an earth to live on, experiences to prove us, and commandments to guide us. Discuss, one at a time, what will happen if we do not use these gifts properly, and contrast those results with what will happen if we do use them wisely.
We Need a Savior
Tell your family that Heavenly Father knew there was one more thing we needed in order to return to him. It is the most important one of all.
What was it? (A Savior [see
chapter 3, “Jesus Christ, Our Chosen Leader and Savior,” Gospel Principles, pp. 16–20].)
Read Abraham 3:27.
Who volunteered and was chosen to be our Savior? (Jesus.)
Add “Savior” to your list.
Why do we need a savior?
Allow your family to discuss this question, then explain our universal need for a savior. Without a savior we could not return home to our Heavenly Father. When Heavenly Father sent us here, he gave us commandments. When we break a commandment, we need someone to help us. Through the Atonement, Jesus made it possible for us to repent and return to our Heavenly Father.
Jesus Makes It Possible for Us to Return to Heavenly Father
Discuss with your family what Jesus did for us. Using your family’s suggestions, make a chart similar to the following on a chalkboard or poster:
What Jesus Did for Us
He atoned for Adam’s sin
so little children can be saved.
He gave us the gospel
so we can live with him.
He showed us how to live
so we can be happy.
He suffered for our sins
so we can be forgiven.
He died and was resurrected
so we can be resurrected.
Which of these is a free gift to us, one we receive no matter what we do? (The Resurrection.)
Which of these must we do something about before we can have the gift? (His paying for our sins. We must repent in order to be forgiven and live a happy life.)
Emphasize that the gift of eternal life, the privilege of returning to the celestial kingdom and living with Heavenly Father and our families, is a gift we have to work for by repenting and living the gospel. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffered for the sins of the world. If we truly repent, Jesus will take away our sins so that we can return to our Heavenly Father. (See 2 Nephi 9:6–26.)
How do you think Heavenly Father felt when his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, had to suffer and die for all of us? (Both glad and sad.)
Why? (Because he was glad that Jesus was willing to do it, but sad that Jesus had to suffer.)
To help your family appreciate Heavenly Father’s love, decide on some topics to discuss further at the dinner table each day during the coming week, such as Jesus’ example, the reality of the Resurrection, and the chance to learn good from evil. After each daily discussion, suggest that your family members remember to thank Heavenly Father in their prayers for that particular blessing.
ADAPTING FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN
Relate briefly and simply the story of the Council in Heaven. Emphasize the love that Heavenly Father has shown for each of us in his plan to send us to earth to receive a body.
Help your children understand that because of Heavenly Father’s love for us, he sent our older brother, Jesus, to help us. To help them understand what Jesus did for us, tell the following story:
Michael went to the park with his family. While they were at the picnic table, he ran over to the tall slide and climbed up it. He liked to climb stairs. He had just learned how to climb. But when Michael reached the top of the slide and looked down he became very frightened. He was so high up.
Michael started to cry. He didn’t know what to do. He was too scared to climb back down, but he was also too scared to go down the steep slide. Mandy, the child behind Michael on the slide, said she would help Michael back down the stairs. But Michael was too afraid to let Mandy help him.
From the picnic table, Michael’s father saw Michael on the slide. He knew Michael was scared. So he sent Stephen, the older brother, to rescue Michael. Michael saw Stephen coming. Soon Stephen was standing at the bottom of the long slide. Stephen talked softly to Michael and quickly talked Michael into sliding down into his strong arms. Michael ran happily back with Stephen to the picnic table. He was glad to be safe with his father, mother, brothers, and sisters again.
Going up the tall slide for Michael is much like our leaving Heavenly Father and coming to the earth. It is new, exciting, and different. But there are dangers. Without help we would not be able to get back to safety. Not just anybody can help. The person must be able to help and must also be someone we know and trust.
Jesus is our Savior and helps us when we are in this earth life. Only he can rescue us. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to make it possible for us to come back to our heavenly home.
Show your children the picture of Jesus and the children (see lesson 36, “He Is Risen!”). Talk with them about some of the things Jesus may be asking these children to do that will help them return to Heavenly Father, such as be kind to each other, obey your parents, and share your toys.
Let them draw a picture of one thing Jesus wants them to do that they will try to do this week. Post the pictures where they can remind the children during the week.
ADAPTING FOR TEENAGERS AND ADULTS
Present the information under “We Need a Savior,” and use the chart and questions under “Jesus Makes It Possible for Us to Return to Heavenly Father.”
Have your family sing the first verse of “How Great the Wisdom and the Love” (Hymns,
“How great the wisdom and the love.”
Why was it wisdom as well as love?
“That filled the courts on high.”
What does this refer to? (The Council in Heaven.)
“And sent the Savior from above.”
Heavenly Father sent his Son.
“To suffer, bleed, and die!”
What was accomplished by his suffering, bleeding, and dying?
You may want to discuss related topics throughout the week at dinner time as recommended in the regular lesson.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE HOME EVENINGS
The Salvation of Little Children
The Atonement made possible the salvation of little children in the celestial kingdom.
Have your family think of all the scriptures they can that have to do with children and their special place in heaven (for example, Matthew 18:3; Mosiah 3:16; Moroni 8:10–23; D&C 29:46–47, 137:10; and Moses 6:54).
If you have the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, look up “Salvation of Little Children” in the Topical Guide for more scriptures.
Ask a question about the salvation of those who are retarded mentally and do not become accountable before the Lord. Be sure to bring out that their salvation is also assured as that of little children.
End the family home evening by expressing your appreciation and joy that so many of our Heavenly Father’s children have salvation in the celestial kingdom because of Jesus Christ. Since the beginning of the world, there must have been billions who died before accountability.
What does this mean to you about Heavenly Father’s love?
Understanding the Atonement