Thousands of overacheiving ward and branch Primary Presidents, joined by their Primary Chorister minions, will be striving this fall, as they have every fall for decades, to pull together the perfect primary sacrament meeting program. Maybe this year, children of all ages will recite every line with perfect diction and clarity, without screams, shouts, moans, burps and other sounds emanating from body cavities unacceptable for prime time church services. No poking, jiggling, bathroom dancing, nose-picking, or unseemly underarm explorations. No dropped lines, missing lines, wrong lines, and mangled lines. Angelic voices possessing perfect pitch will blend seamlessly into melodious unity that call upon the powers of heaven to bless both them and the congregation will a comforting witness of faith, truth, testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Alas, therein lies the problem. The only drawback with a perfect primary sacrament meeting program, and this is a deal-breaker, is that it would send our children to heaven too early without adults who enjoy and need their presence so desperately. We run the risk of having our primary children being immediately translated up into Heaven without us, much like the citizens of the city of Enoch. We would be left here alone to deal with the challenges of life. Is that what we really want?
Playing the what if game for a moment puts the dangers of a perfect primary sacrament meeting program into its proper perspective. First, if our children were translated to Heaven, there would be no more primary sacrament meeting programs. Throughout the rest of the year an eery silence would reign over our church meetings, and thousands of primary workers would lose their callings. A ward without primary is a ward without sunshine. No more little humans racing through the halls after class to show and explain to their Mom or Dad what they drew or made. No more family night lessons about mispronounced prophets' names or simplified stories of Jesus. No more dirt tracked throughout the house or unsanctioned pet frogs being maintained in the bathtub. And Finally, no more tender moments reading bedtime stories to sandy-haired sleepy heads. And all this because a well-intentioned but misguided primary president nailed the perfect primary sacrament meeting program. I think you get the picture. It's just not worth it.
If you think this can't happen in your ward, then you're sorely mistaken. A few years ago I was away on business and attended a local ward's primary sacrament meeting program. It was a masterpiece of choreographed gospel teaching and music. Small groups of perfectly scrubbed little boys and girls arrived at the podium just at the right moment and delivered their assigned scripture or other gospel gem with dignified exactness. The children led flawless synchronized sitting up and down before and after each song, which by the way, was sung with a sense of completeness normally reserved for choirs of angels. The dedicated chorister was ready to burst with gratitude, thankful beyond recognition for the fine work of her primary children.
Towards the end of the program, however, it was the parents, not the children, who were starting to squirm uncomfortably. They instinctively knew that something was wrong- everything was going too right. They could sense that at any moment, the heavy wooden beam running along the seam from the front to the back of the chapel roof was going to crack wide open, and a heavenly cloud would gobble up their children in a flash and take them to heaven where perfect children belong. Thank heavens that the very last speaker, a petite little nine year-old girl wearing new white dress with a bright yellow ribbon across her waist ended her assigned part with an uncharacteristically deep, cavernous “wet” burp that instantly filled the immensity of space inside the chapel, rattled window panes, and tripped earthquake sensors in the neighborhood. The little girl looked stunned; her primary friends giggled infectiously; the chorister silently sobbed tears of disappointment. Parents in the congregation, however, sighed in sincere relief. With a flawed primary program, their little loved ones would be on earth at least one more year, until they attempt another perfect program next fall.
The moral of this story? Don't get too upset if your child is the child who screams instead of sings through the primary sacrament meeting program or pulls Janie's hair so she screams in terror during a particularly inspirational Book of Mormon narration segment. It is merely their way of telling us that they are not quite ready to go yet.