It’s late Sunday Night. It’s October 13th. That means I’m (still)posting every single day this month as part of a 31 Day Challenge.
Every day!? Including weekends?! And Sundays? I totally dig Sundays, but I’m not used to posting on them. What do I do on Sundays? I church it up.
I get dressed in my “Sunday best”, throw on some heels, do my hair AND make-up, then yell at my little minions to “GET DRESSED, BRUSH YOUR HAIR, FIND YOUR CHURCH SHOES, EAT SOMETHING QUICK, GET IN THE CAR!!” And we go to church.
Our church is only a couple blocks from our house. You’d think that would guarantee us being on time.
You’d think! Funny joke.
Charlie was restless this morning at church, so I pulled out my phone camera to distract him from throwing a paper airplane across the chapel.
It worked. For 0.8 minutes.
If you must know, The Manchild and I were born and raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are “LDS.” You might be more familiar with calling us “Mormon.” We don’t go to church every single Sunday because that’s what our parents raised us to do. We do it because of countless personal experiences that have built our faith and testified to our hearts through The Spirit that we are in the right place. It’s a good feeling to know our Savior and what he desires of us. And to know that he wants nothing more than joy for us. And you, of course, silly.
Phewf! Now we are churchin’ it up on the internet! Blog Style! Not used to this. Sorry.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how much of our religious customs, practices, and doctrines overlap with those of other religions. We attended a baptism yesterday of one of Holly’s friends. (Our children receive a “baby blessing” in infancy and are baptised (make baptismal covenants and become official members of the church) at age 8.) Many of our non-Mormon friends and neighbors attended the baptism with us. One friend commented on how many of the words we use in our baptism service are similar to words she hears in her own Catholic church- and that the same principles were present.
On the flipside, as we gave our friends an informal tour of the church building, it came to my attention that there are a few things we do differently. (Forgive me that I’m not going to discuss doctrinal differences here on this silly little blog. I’m not up for it on this lazy Sunday night. )
5 Things Mormons do Differently in their Sunday Services:
- We use bread and water for our sacrament. So instead of wine, we use water. The water represents Christ’s blood that was shed for us and the bread represents his body. The are simply symbols. The exact food/drink we use is not the important factor. For that matter, I’d like to know why we can’t use Oreo cookies and Milk? Or Cinnamon Toast and Hot Chocolate? I mean– let’s fill the seats, people.
- Our Sunday sermons are taught by members of the congregation who are assigned/asked to speak on a given topic. Our Bishop, who is not paid and is a local member of our congregation (we call the local congregations “wards”), does not speak in every meeting. He presides over it and asks the members to share their testimonies and experiences in our Sunday Meetings (with a couple weeks notice, of course.) We are really blessed to learn and grow not only by listening to and being taught by one another, but by the occasional experience of having to pray and study over a topic that the Bishop has been inspired to assign to us. We definitely learn more as the giver of the talk than the receiver. Basically, our sunday service is more teaching, less ceremony than many other churches. Also, we don’t have any bands/percussion/instruments to jazz up our music. Just the organ and our voices. That is probably related to another point: nobody gets up and exclaims “hallelujah!”. No applause. It’s pretty reverent, with the occasional toddler who yells, “I wanna a snack, dad!” injected.
- We attend church for 3 hours! But that’s sounds much worse than it is, friends. Our Sacrament Meeting is only an hour and ten minutes long. That includes 3-4 congregational hymns, partaking of the sacrament (bread and water), a youth (age 12-18) talk, and 2 talks by adults from the ward. We all attend Sacrament Meeting together as families. After that, we break into Sunday School classes by age group (sorta-the adults are all together, the kids are divided by age). Sunday School lasts 45 minutes. Then we change classes again. During the third block we divide by “auxiliaries”, ie. Young Men, Young Women, Primary (kids 18 mos – 18 yrs), Relief Society (women), and 2 separate Priesthood Quorums (men). That’s a bunch of Mormon Speak, y’all. My point is that we are at church for 3 hours, but it’s totally not torturous. In fact, it’s awesome. It fills my cup!
- Our wards are determined by geographic boundaries. When you move into a neighborhood, you know exactly where you will go to church, what time it will start, who your bishop is, and what boundaries you’ll need to be aware of in the event that you can’t stand your ward and want to escape. Choose wisely! Just kiddin’. (*wink) In fact, you can use this tool to determine exactly which LDS ward you live in right now. Sorta fun.
- Our wards are managed locally by non-paid,”voluntold” clergy who also have full time jobs and families to manage in addition to their church callings. We each have responsibilities within the ward to serve, teach, and help in many ways. Even though the wards are managed locally, every single congregation teaches the same doctrine, on the same schedule, in the same manner as the other congregations across the globe. You’ll be taught lesson #18 from the “blah blah” manual one Sunday, go on vacation to another state the next weekend, stop in to the local ward while you are there, and pick right up on lesson #19. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed a global church (29,024 congregations and 14,782,473 members right now), so odds are that there is a local ward nearby your favorite vacation spot. Darnit. No Excuses. :-) Pack your white shirts and ties, boys!
Ok, so points 4 and 5 aren’t exactly “Sunday Service” differences, but they snuck themselves in there somehow and I ain’t turnin’ back now.
That’s all I’ve got for you today.
To summarize: in case you were wondering why I didn’t have a post up on Sunday morning, I was churchin’ it up. And I think you should church it up too. I feel like my state of mind is pretty elevated on Sunday nights because of the uplifting experiences I’ve had at church and with my fellow ward members on the Sabbath Day. Six or seven days later I’m in desperate need of a refill on my spiritual cup. I thank God for Sundays. I hope you can find an anchor in a good church community. Somewhere that you can feel grounded and lifted, find joy, and serve others.
And that’s Life Hack #9: Church it Up, Ladies.
If you are STILL READING THIS, I thought I’d share with you my very favorite talk from our recent “General Conference”, where the entire church membership came together to meet (virtually via the wonders of technology) and hear from the Prophet, Apostles, and other church leaders. We have General Conference twice a year, and the kids love it, because we watch church on TV in our jammies while snacking on Swedish Fish :-)
This talk is by Elder Dieter Uchtdorf. In this talk he teases a bit about all the time we LDS Church members invest in our wards and answers a lot of questions on-lookers (and some out-lying members of the church) might have. It’s such a good talk.
Watch it if you like chocolate. That should cover just about everyone. Except my little brother. Watch it if you like chocolate and/or if you are my little brother.
Catch these other Life Hacks in my 31 day series: