“Fireside with Fire,” Friend, Aug. 1999, 3
Chris stood next to the door to the Relief Society room. After what seemed a very long time, the door finally opened. Chris stood back and watched as the sisters left, chatting in twos and threes. He had learned over the years that it was easier to just wait for his mom in the hall, but today he really wanted to get into the Relief Society room.
He waited for just the right moment, then, ducking under Sister Brown’s purse, slipped in. He slid into an empty row of chairs and looked around. Just as I thought, he said to himself, there’s no fireplace in here.
“There you are, Son.” Chris turned when he heard his mom’s voice. “I was looking for you in the hall.” Noticing the confused look on his face, she asked, “Is something wrong?”
Chris handed his mom a sheet of paper he had been holding. “I came in here to see the fireplace.”
Chris’s mom read the first line on the paper out loud. “‘You and your parents are invited to attend a special baptism fireside.’”
“It says it’s going to be here in the Relief Society room, but where are they going to build a fire?”
Mom smiled. “A fireside is a kind of meeting,” she explained. “I’m not sure why it’s called that—maybe people really did meet around a fire at one time. But that rarely happens anymore.”
“Oh.” Chris was unable to hide his disappointment. “I thought maybe we would be roasting marshmallows or something fun like that.”
“It does say that refreshments will be served,” Mom tried to cheer him up. She put her hand on his shoulder. “Come on. Let’s go see how much longer your dad’s going to be.”
They walked to the clerk’s office, where Chris’s dad was busy helping Brother Watkins, a member of the bishopric, count the day’s tithing donations. “Did you get my tithing?” Chris asked excitedly. “I gave it to the bishop before sacrament meeting.”
Dad nodded. “We got it and just entered it into the computer. You’re well on your way to another year of being a full tithe payer.”
Chris smiled, thinking back to last year’s tithing settlement. He remembered the bishop saying, “Heavenly Father is very pleased with you for paying all of your tithing.”
Chris’s mom poked her head in. “How much longer are you going to be?”
“Not much longer. We’ll be finished in a few minutes. Do you want to wait for me, or do you think I need the exercise of walking home?”
“I don’t know. What do you think, Chris?”
Chris laughed. “I guess we can wait a few more minutes.”
As they waited on the couch outside the office, Sister Johnson came around the corner. “Chris—just the boy I need to talk to!”
“Yes. I was wondering if you would talk for a few minutes at the baptism fireside. I’m asking some of the children in your class to take a minute or two to tell what they are doing to prepare themselves for baptism. Would you be willing to do that?”
“I guess so,” Chris said nervously.
“Your mom and dad can help you,” Sister Johnson assured him. “I’m sure you’ll do a great job.” She turned to walk away, then turned back. “Oh, and one more thing. I want your whole class to recite the fourth article of faith together. Do you know that one?”
Chris nodded enthusiastically. “I know them all,” he said.
“I thought so.” Sister Johnson smiled. “Thank you for your help.”
“Your first fireside, and you get to be one of the speakers!” Mom said. “Good for you!”
Chris slumped on the sofa next to his mother. “But she wants me to talk about what I’m doing to get ready to be baptized. And I haven’t done anything. I should have told her to ask someone else.”
“I think you’ve done more than you know,” Mom said.
Before she could answer, the door to the clerk’s office opened and out walked Dad and Brother Watkins. Brother Watkins held out his hand to shake hands with Chris. “And how are you today?” he asked.
“OK, I guess.”
“We were just talking about what a person should do to prepare for baptism,” Mom said. “Do you have any recommendations?”
Brother Watkins rubbed his chin. “Well, let me see. Someone who is interested in being baptized should be trying to learn about the gospel and trying to keep the commandments. Do you know someone who is interested in being baptized?”
“Yeah—me!” Chris said. “I’ll be eight next May.”
“That’s great!” Brother Watkins told him. “I think you’re doing a good job of preparing for baptism.”
“But what am I doing?”
“Well, I know that you attended your meetings today. And I saw that you paid your tithing. Those are two good things.”
Chris nudged Mom. “Go to meetings and pay tithing—I can say that in my talk.”
Brother Watkins went on. “Are you learning the Articles of Faith?”
Chris nodded. “I already know them.”
“Wonderful! Do you obey your parents?”
Chris smiled sheepishly. “Most of the time.”
“Do you remember to say your prayers?”
Chris nodded again.
“Do you read the scriptures?”
Chris’s smile faded. “No. Not really. I just read the kids’ ones. You know, the ones with lots of pictures.”
“The kids’ ones are a great start,” Brother Watkins assured him.
Chris’s smile returned. “I’m more ready than I thought,” he said happily. “There’s a baptism fireside next week. I’m supposed to tell what I’m doing to get ready to be baptized. I guess I always thought that all you had to do was be eight years old.”
“Thank you for your help, Brother Watkins,” Dad said.
“My pleasure,” said Brother Watkins. “When is the fireside?”
Mom looked at the invitation. “It’s at 6:00 P.M. next Sunday in the Relief Society room.”
“I think I’ll see if I can get myself an invitation,” Brother Watkins told Chris. “I’d love to hear your talk.”
“There’s going to be refreshments, too!”
“Excellent!” Brother Watkins grinned. “I do like refreshments.”
“This fireside’s only going to be missing one thing,” Chris said.
“What’s that?” Dad wondered.
“A fire. A perfect fireside would have a fire.”
“Hold that thought,” Brother Watkins told him, hurrying into the clerk’s office. He returned carrying his scriptures. “I think your fireside will be perfect.” He opened his scriptures. “What happens after you get baptized?”
“I don’t know,” Chris said.
“Sure you do. Tell me the fourth article of faith.”
“‘We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost,’” Chris recited.
“So, what comes after baptism?”
Suddenly understanding Brother Watkin’s question, Chris answered excitedly, “The laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
“That’s right. Now listen to this,” Brother Watkins said. “This is in Doctrine and Covenants 19:31 [D&C 19:31]: ‘Thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.’ Chris, do you think that the Holy Ghost will be at the fireside?”
“I think so.”
Brother Watkins smiled. “I think so, too. You see, you’re right, Chris—a fireside really isn’t a fireside without the fire.”