I’d like all the whining about the LDS Sacrament Meeting to stop. I’d like to focus on how to make it a better and more meaningful weekly experience.
Among the chief complaints one hears about Sacrament meetings are the following:
- Sacrament meeting is boring
- The music is boring, not diverse enough
- The speakers are boring
- It is always the same
- It is too quiet, not enough emotion
- It is too loud, kids make too much noise
- The Speakers are unprepared.
- They just read conference talks
- There is too little focus on Christ, not enough discussion of Him
- We don’t start on time
- We don’t end on time
- Aaronic Priesthood members must wear white shirts and ties
What I have seen as a member of the congregation and from up on the stand:
- Members arrive late, some are chronic
- Loud conversations before start of meeting
- Not singing hymns
- Playing with cell phone, texting or whatever
- Preparing lessons
- Talking, especially during the Sacrament Service
- Reading other materials
- Eating and drinking
- Sleeping, no matter what time church starts
- Lack of attention, just not listening
- Distracted by caring for children, some avoidable, some not.
- Refusal to remove children from Chapel, no matter how loud and disruptive.
What I have also seen:
- Members arriving early, taking their seats, listening to prelude music
- Singing hymns with enthusiasm
- Actively participating in prayers, saying Amen
- Listening, paying attention
- Singing the Sacrament Hymn
- Appearing contemplative during the Sacrament Service
- Heads bowed, but not sleeping
- Reading Scriptures
- Not talking to others
- Listening to talks
- Taking notes
The Lord gave a revelation to Joseph Smith specifically regarding Sacrament meeting when he said,
Thou shalt offer a asacrifice unto the Lord thy God in brighteousness, even that of a broken heart and a ccontrite spirit. And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself aunspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of bprayer and offer up thy csacraments upon my dholy day; For verily this is a aday appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High; (Doctrine and Covenants 59:8 – 10)
The responsibility for a meaningful Sacrament Meeting experience rests with us as individual members. As we come prepared to partake of the Sacrament in remembrance of Our Savior Jesus Christ, offer up a broken heart and contrite spirit and seek to receive forgiveness and repentance for our sins, we can’t help but improve our own experience. In spite of the shortcomings of those who speak to us, in spite of the fact that topics may not be presented to us well, we need to remember that most everyone who gets an assignment to speak in Sacrament meeting WANTS to do a good job and uplift the members of the congregation. We need to be chartable toward them. If we are in the right frame of mind, we can surely receive at least a single bit of instruction or inspiration that we can make useful to us!
The Bishop and his counselors are responsible for assigning the topics to be spoken during Sacrament meeting and insuring the members are prepared to give a talk, which is Gospel and Christ-centered, no matter what the topic. By its very nature, all Gospel topics should be tied back to the Savior at some point.
I think this quote from President Kimball says it all,
“We do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the gospel. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you” (“The Sabbath-A Delight,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 4-5).
There is a story in the Church is may be Church lore or maybe not, but it goes somewhat like this,
A General Authority attended a Ward during a Sacrament Service. During the Sacrament Service he was offered the Sacrament, we refused it and it was passed to the next person.
A sister, observing this, approached the General Authority after the meeting,
“You, a General Authority, not worthy to take the Sacrament?
“Dear Sister, I am sorry, but during the singing of the hymn, my mind wandered ever so slightly away from the Savior and as a result, I did not feel worthy to partake of the Sacrament.”
I hope that we can try to have a more meaningful Sacrament meeting rather than focus on the shortcomings of the meeting itself. After all, the shortcomings are really ours.
And for heaven sake’s, stopping whining about it!