Sunday, May 2, 2010

I See... The Other Sacrament Meeting

Every Sunday in every time zone thousands of Sacrament meetings are held. Faithful saints gather to worship the Savior and renew their their covenants. The neurotypical member expects to learn what's going on in the ward, partake of the Sacrament, and be enriched by talks prepared with pondering and care. Elder Dallin H. Oaks once told us in Stake Conference that “what you hear is more important than what I say.” How many of us, however, while sitting reverently on our informally assigned pews, are really hearing what is said? Maybe we're attending the other Sacrament meeting? How many of us even know about the other Sacrament meeting?

The Priest's Other Sacrament Meeting

Robby Benson is slumping over a hard metal chair in the back overflow section like a fallen scarecrow. He is feeling relieved that one of the Bishop's counselors did not ask him to bless the sacrament. He spent a few too many minutes on the internet the night before perusing through sexually explicit material, and did not want to face the dilemma of turning him down. After the sacrament somebody on the stand said something about families, and then he thought he heard the elderly high councilman with a monotone delivery share a stale story about how their teenage daughter's untimely death decades ago brought him and his wife closer together and strengthened their marriage, but his spiritual senses were too dulled by his sins the night before to catch much more. He silently decided during the entire course of the meeting that he preferred dealing with the anticipation of the Sun's playoff game scheduled to run during the second and third hours rather than the soul-seering guilt associated with soft-core pornography. He hopes to skirt quickly out the side door right after the benediction and before the Bishop locks loving, penetrating eyes on him. That was his Sacrament meeting.

The Busy Mom's Sacrament Meeting

Sis. Maryanne Baxter is sitting two rows from the front in the middle section, filling the whole pew with seven kids of assorted sizes, ages, and mismatched shoes. This is so Dad can watch them from his seat high on the stand next to the Bishop and launch futile attempts to silently control their bad behavior via secret coded messages embedded in his angry, disfigured stares.The triplets are arguing too loudly again over Granma's tattered cloth quiet book, and 12-year old Marty is pulling pigtails to heighten the tension. Maryanne spends most of the time during the sacrament ordinance stopping baby Joella from grabbing a wad of bread from the sacrament tray and stuffing it in her armpits. The face of the first speaker, Sis. Morgan, is beaming with manufactured enlightenment from the stand as she attempts to share her own experiences finding enduring joy raising four children in the light of the gospel. Maryanne is too distracted, however, by jealous thoughts of Sis. Morgan's Stepford children sitting reverently at attention two rows back. Concerning the second speaker, she has heard only one high council talk in past three years (remember that time that the triplets were drugged up on cold medicine?), and today will be no exception. She'll miss the momentarily pleasure of looking deep into the elderly high councilman's kindly, understanding eyes and finding strength in his accounts of lessons learned through hardships- she had to rush Martha out to the lobby again to finish a round of window-rattling screams brought on by Willy's incessant pinching. She looks forward to the day when Sacrament meeting uplifts and inspires her; for now, she'll have to settle for glimpses of “tivo”ed conference talks after the kids are down for the night. That was her Sacrament meeting.

The Young Couple's Sacrament Meeting

Young Sis. Nyman and her husband are sitting towards the back on a side pew huddled against a bristly cloth-covered wall. Their pleasant smiles struggle to mask an inner turmoil that has been boiling for years. They are striving with torn hearts to understand the Lord's plan for them- every corner of their temple recommend souls ache endlessly for the privilege of chidren that nature continues to deny them. They have never turned down an opportunity to serve, and so together they wrestle Sunbeams every week and learn to love them as their own. But does the Bishop know their pain? He has five kids of his own. Know that on some Sundays after they hand over their Sunbeams back to harried parents, they return to an empty home, sob openly, then hold each other tight in desperate embraces for temporary comfort? The first talk about raising children in the light of the gospel plays a cruel joke on their righteous desires to raise their own. The second talk from the visiting High Councilman on how the Lord uses hardships to teach his children how to be truly happy, and that He always keeps his promises, offers them a sliver of hope that maybe, someday, they will be better parents later for the barren life they are enduring now. That was their sacrament meeting.

What was your sacrament meeting?

1 comment:

  1. oooo, so true. do more. new convert; leader; distracted yw; etc