Reverence before and during sacrament meeting
Taught by Carissa Rasmussen
Taught by Carissa Rasmussen
Bishop asked we talk about Pres Hinckley’s talk in 1987, Reverence and Morality.
In 1987 why would he be talking about the need for reverence in sacrament meetings. What kind of reverence “issues” during sacrament were there?
Q1 “I recall that when I was a missionary in London, England, more than fifty years ago, we held our meetings in the Battersea town hall, which we rented. The floors were hard, and we sat on chairs. Every time a chair moved there was a noise. But this was not the worst aspect of the situation. Far worse was the noisy socializing of the members of the branch. On one occasion we invited a family whom we had met while tracting. With great expectation we as missionaries stood by the door to welcome them. There was the usual convivial spirit in the hall, with the members talking noisily one with another. When this family came into the room, they quietly moved toward some chairs, knelt for a moment, and closed their eyes in a word of prayer. They then sat in an attitude of reverence amidst all the commotion. Frankly, I was embarrassed. They had come to what they regarded as a worship service, and they behaved themselves accordingly. At the close of the meeting they left quietly, and when we next met they spoke of their disappointment in what they had experienced. I have never forgotten that.”
Fast forward 28 years to now. What do you think might be the biggest issues affecting sacrament meeting reverence?
-kids, cell phones, lack of respect, not understanding why we meet each week for sacrament meeting?
This is me: the fact I’ve been trying to keep a crazy baby under control already for 2 hours and now he’s expected to sit quietly for another hour right at lunch time and nap time and my 4 year old wants to tell me all about primary and I see my VT walk in and start chatting about how cute her new dress is and the upcoming vacations we’re going on and the poop in the pool
Why do we concern ourselves with reverence during sacrament meeting?
Q2:“Why do we go to sacrament meeting? We go, of course, to renew our covenants in partaking of the sacrament. This is the most important element of these meetings. And we also go to be instructed, to meditate upon the things of God, and to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. We go because of the commandment of the Lord, who said in revelation: “Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; “For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:8–10).”
Partake of the Sacrament is the most important element. Why? What covenants are we renewing? All of them! Including our temple covenants. What preparations do we make to enter the temple to make those covenants?
-age and maturity, spiritual prep, leave our worldly distractions behind, like our cell phones. We talk in whispers only when necessary. These are all to help focus our attention on the important ordinances we are participating in.
Q3 “The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together. Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Elder Oaks Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament 2008
How do we Focus on the Atonement? Elder Oaks makes several suggestions and I want to talk about a couple
Q4 “We are seated well before the meeting begins. “During that quiet interval, prelude music is subdued. This is not a time for conversation or transmission of messages but a period of prayerful meditation as leaders and members prepare spiritually for the sacrament...We should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others. (Sacrament Meeting Elder Oaks 2008)
So what about in our situation? With Sacrament meeting last? Bishop decided we would end Sunday School early so we can find our kids and be in the chapel during prelude. I usually make it to my seat before he stands up to conduct but I’m so focused on corralling my kids that I don’t listen to the prelude It is supreme chaos, no? What are your ideas to combat this?
Q5: “Most important of all is the training of our people, and particularly our young people, in the importance of reverence in the chapel...With our block-plan scheduling, three hours is a long time for a small child to sit in meetings. It is a long time for a mother who has small children around her. But with thoughtful training and careful consideration of all elements of the situation, a great improvement can be brought to pass. Mothers with small babies may plan to sit near the aisle so that, if necessary, they can leave quietly to care for their children.” (Pres. Hickley Reverence and Morality 1987)
Cell phones and teenagers. Story about Rob. Having our phones out our kids don’t know whether we’re checking instagram or reading scriptures. I have a hard time not being distracted by my notifications even if I’m reading scriptures. Then I start thinking about that email or text I just received. If our kids are watching us then they learn it’s acceptable behavior.
What about using devices/coloring/books for our kids? Obviously age is a factor. But when are they expected to sit and focus on the Atonement?
I think of the primary song: Reverence is more than just quietly sitting, It’s thinking of Father Above. A feeling I get when I think of His blessings, I’m reverent for Reverence is Love.
Ideas for teaching our kids to be reverent and not just sit there quietly?
-reading the picture scripture stories, looking at the gospel art book,
Q6: Elder Melvin J. Ballard once said:“I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load is lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food” (“The Sacramental Covenant,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1919,1027).
When is the last time you felt like that during the Sacrament?
Partaking of the sacrament provides us with a sacred moment in a holy place. It is a period of spiritual renewal as we recognize the deep spiritual significance of the ordinance offered to each of us personally. If we were to become casual in partaking of the sacrament, we would lose the opportunity for spiritual growth.
What are ways we can feel like this?
“We ask that you discuss this important matter in your homes and that you who are officers discuss it in your planning meetings. There is much room for improvement, and with a little effort it can happen. As reverence is improved, all will be blessed. I leave the matter in your hands. (Pres Hinckley, Reverence and Morality 1987)
“By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (D&C 20:77). That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path. This gift of the Holy Ghost, President Wilford Woodruff taught, “is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man” (Deseret Weekly, Apr. 6, 1889, 451).” Elder Oaks Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament 2008
I am going to challenge us to cultivate a more beautiful spirit of worship in our sacrament meetings and an attitude of increased reverence generally in our church buildings. I think if we start praying to know “What each of us can do to improve the spirit of our sacrament meetings.” Wonderful things will happen.