Christmas Rejoicing versus Christmas Discouragement

By Catherine Pavia

Christmas was always my favorite holiday when I was a child. And not just for the obvious reason. It was more than the presents; it was the general sense of goodness in the world around me—from the Christmas music to the Salvation Army bell ringers, the carolers to our own little acts of service around …

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A God-Shaped Hole

By Kellie Purcill

There’s not a big difference between holy and holey. Just a little swirl of ink, to look at it on the page. The difference grows more pronounced in real-life, though, more clearly defined in terms of the bits that are missing, the shine that is muted, the fatigue drooping the edges, the decided lack of …

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A Spiritual Litmus Test

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Adorable “snack cakes” from Hungry Happenings

“Most people don’t come to church looking merely for a few new gospel facts or to see old friends, though all of that is important. They come seeking a spiritual experience. They want peace. They want their faith fortified and their hope renewed. They want, in short, to be nourished by the good word of God, to be strengthened by the powers of heaven.” Jeffrey R. Holland, April 1998 General Conference, A Teacher Come from God.

I wish there were a litmus test – or one of those fancy chemical sprays used in CSI – that could determine when the Spirit is really present in our meetings.

It’s such a delicate balance. Last Sunday’s Lorenzo Snow Relief Society lesson included passages reminding us that we have to bring the Spirit with us to our sacrament meetings. One reading of this could be, “Bored in a meeting? It’s your own fault.” Another take could be “Search for the pearls of wisdom, regardless of the grammar, unstructured rambling, and limited preparation of the speakers who aren’t professional orators after all.” Or less cynically, “You get out what you put in.”

At the same time, Elder Holland reminds us:
“Are we really nurturing our[selves] and our new members in a way that will sustain them when the stresses of life appear? Or are we giving them a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories? President John Taylor once called such teaching ‘fried froth,’ the kind of thing you could eat all day and yet finish feeling totally unsatisfied.” (Holland, A Teacher Come from God)

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