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Surviving Sacrament Meeting

By Terresa Wellborn

When I was growing up, church was something we dashed to the last minute after Sunday morning cartoons and bowls of sugar-doused Cheerios. My mom was as kind as she was crazy: she let us bring anything to church except the family dog and roller-skates. Over the years we lugged armfuls of books, crayons, dolls, …

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Teaching the Ideal, Living the Real

By Jessie Christensen

I first realized that my parents had sinned when I was about 13 years old. The lesson topic was the law of chastity, and I suddenly thought “if my parents had been keeping the commandments, I wouldn’t be here.” My mom had always told their story in a funny way and I loved hearing about how my parents had met; they had moved in together without telling her family, and one day my grandma came to visit my mom, but my dad opened the door instead. They got married and my mom returned to church activity a few years later. I was proud of her for bringing us to church every week and serving faithfully in our ward, and I loved my dad even though he didn’t come to church with us. During the lesson I looked around at the other girls in the room, including my friend whose parents weren’t members and weren’t married, and the one who had figured out that her oldest sibling’s birthday was only five months after her parents’ wedding anniversary. Our teacher earnestly told us that keeping the law of chastity and saving sex for after a temple wedding was the only path to a happy family, and yet here we were, living in our imperfect, mostly happy families.

Church can be painful sometimes. When I feel pain or discomfort from something said at church, I sit back and think about what the problem is. Often, I’m feeling the prick of conscience that lets me know that I’m not keeping the commandments as best I can. This pain can be a positive motivator to help me change and to feel a greater resolve to become more Christ-like. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I go to church every week—to renew my covenants with God and to learn more about His teachings and His plan for me. Other times, however, pain comes from things that are said that are not in line with God’s doctrine and that are wrong. I hurt because someone has made assumptions about others or about God that are not true and bring about shame. Shame comes when we feel that what we are is wrong, not that what we are doing is wrong.

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Imagery and The Word

By Jennie LaFortune

She Will Find What is Lost by Brian Kershisnick A few Sundays ago I sat in a congregation of over 700 single adults rapt in attention.  A room full of silence was nothing new. At best this group is consistently still and thoughtful. At worst, phones beckon the grown and anesthetize resolve. But it is …

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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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