“The Night Joseph Smith Came to Family Home Evening,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 63–64
“Why role-play only the Christmas story every year? Why not the Joseph Smith story, too?” my husband asked as we planned a lesson to commemorate Joseph Smith’s birthday on December 23. We couldn’t forget our children’s engrossed reverence the week before, as all three “shepherds” (with towels on their heads and wooden dowels in their hands) had knelt before Baby Jesus (a favorite doll) and our two-year-old had reached out to pat him gently. We decided to try another role-playing session. What resulted was an eye-opening experience for us all.
During the week, we reviewed the story of Joseph Smith’s first vision with our children and assigned each child his part in the play.
In family home evening on Monday, we first met Joseph Smith (Matthew, our very proud two-year-old) and his family (the rest of us). Then we went from room to room as Joseph and his family listened to different “preachers.” My husband and I alternated the preacher role—he in one room, I in the next. Whoever wasn’t preaching walked along with the children, who listened wide-eyed and rather timidly to their preacher-parents’”sermons.”
Next, we all returned to the living room and Dad asked, “Now, how do you think Joseph Smith felt? Do you think he might have wondered why all the preachers said such different things, and who was right?” The children agreed that Joseph certainly must have wondered. Dad then lit a candle, and we felt as if we were right there with Joseph as he read James 1:5 by candlelight.
After “Joseph” finished contemplating the scripture, we all got up to follow him (“invisibly,” of course, since no one else was really there) to the grove of trees (the family room) where he knelt to pray. Suddenly Heavenly Father (Daniel, age four) appeared standing above him “in the air” (on the organ bench) beside Jesus (Dad). Daniel solemnly recited the lines that Dad had rehearsed with him earlier: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17.)
Dad then told how Jesus taught Joseph that he should not join any of the existing churches. We explained how the Lord chose Joseph Smith to restore the gospel to the earth, and how Joseph faithfully carried out that mission.
Several days after the lesson, I realized what an impression this experience had made on our children when a neighbor child came over to play. Our son confidently told his friend, “I know a prophet that lived a long time ago—Joseph Smith. Do you know him?”
The First Vision has never been more alive to any of us or its truth more powerfully felt than at that family home evening. We now plan to role-play other stories from the scriptures.—Lorraine Richardson, Riverside, California