I went to Institute again this evening. Sister Watts asked me whether I'd be coming regularly from now on :) I said it depended on when I finish work and is not really predictable.
We talked about various kings, including Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Hilkiah, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 21–25)—mostly about Josiah, though. Helmut Winterstein talked about the importance of the scriptures, which they had found in the temple (2 Kings 22:9), possibly hidden underneath money and forgotten, and about how Josiah had the "book of the law" read to him.
He also talked about Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah, who had escaped the killing of the sons of Zedekiah in front of his eyes before blinding him (2 Kings 25:7), and how his descendants' language had become corrupted and their knowledge of the Creator lost because they had not brought records with them (Omni 1:15–17). He asked us what the scriptures really meant to us.
We also talked about what Josiah did when he read about the commandments and thought about how his father and his grandfather had not kept them nor caused the people to do so, and how he sent to Huldah, who is called a prophetess (2 Kings 22:14).
Hearing someone called a prophetess is unusual, since we usually associate prophets with being male, but someone mentioned that prophet is not a priesthood calling. Helmut said that was a good point, and brought up the last sentence of Revelation 19:10:
for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
From this, anyone who gives testimony of Jesus is a prophet on a larger or smaller scale; he also brought up bishops, who can be prophets for their wards, or stake presidents, who can be prophets for their stakes. He said that while brethren are ordained Apostles, they are not ordained or called as a prophet; rather, they are sustained as prophets, since it is more of a role than a priesthood calling or organisational position (such as President of the Church).
On the way home, we had the fortune that Helmut took us along, and I talked a little about the scriptures and how I was glad that we had him as a teacher for that lesson, because I believe that he listens to the advice he gave himself and tries to abide by it (that is, to study the scriptures regularly, particularly the Book of Mormon, whether that is part of the reading assignment for Sunday School or Institute or not), and so he is in a much better position to exhort others to do so, or to point out the importance.
And something that moved me immensely was sitting in the car and listening to the music. The CD that was playing was a collection of songs by various artists with gospel themes, and the piece that was playing told the story of a fictitious Roman soldier who witnessed a man kneeling at Gethsemane, and later saw him being scourged and nailed to a cross; how he was later assigned to guard duty at a tomb, and saw the stone being rolled away and an angel saying "He is ris'n"; how we was later offered money to change what he said and threatened with having his rank and status stripped from him if he doesn't recant, but throughout the song, the refrain was "I saw what I saw; I heard what I heard—I know what I know".
This music and its message moved me powerfully and I was in tears. I couldn't place the feeling or say what it meant save that it evoked a large emotional response in me. I wondered whether this was the Holy Ghost bearing testimony that the events spoken of were true, or simply music manipulating me into believing something that wasn't (for music is powerful), or what. I don't know. I just know that it had an effect on me.
But I believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, and I am glad for that… at least, in the moments when I pause to think about it and what he did for us and what we can do to repay him. Because often, I don't make much of an effort to live the way I feel I should.
And maybe I should try again to start reading in the scriptures—as a start. Ideally, to start studying, but I think I should take this a step at a time, or I'll not start at all for fear of the large task before me. I'm proud of Stella for taking this seriously and for reading in the scriptures regularly.