So many Sundays, my heart is filled and filled to overflowing as the day draws slowly on. Today was no exception. In the LDS faith, our standard Sunday worship meetings comprise a three hour block. The first hour is spent in a whole group meeting with the entire congregation, where we sing and pray together, hear experiences and counsel regarding specific topics, and receive bread and water blessed to represent and remind us of the atonement of Christ. As we partake of the bread and water (the sacrament, we call it), we are encouraged to recognize our wrongdoings for the week, recommit to doing better, and to find forgiveness and salvation in Christ’s Gospel.
In the second hour, we divide into age groups to study the scriptures at varying age levels. Each year, the adults study a different section of scripture in chronological order. This year, we study the Old Testament, a curious, stimulating inventory of Christian roots. What did God’s authority look look like in ancient times? How did he choose and raise up ancient leaders for his people? What lessons can we learn from the civilizations of the past? How can this make us better today?
In the the third hour, the children remain in their age groups for singing and other games/ activities, while the youth and adults divide then by gender to further study adult topics. This Sunday, it was my honor to teach the third hour lesson to the women of my congregation. For some months now, we have been pondering how we can make the Sabbath a more holy day, in which we can better realize our spiritual goals and pattern our lives after Christian principles. Today, we discussed how we might better serve others on the Sabbath Day by digging into several scripture passages, trying to relate these depictions of the Savior to our own day, and seeking to better know whom the Lord would have us serve. When we were finished, our board looked like this:
One selection you see posted there (John 13:1-5; 12-17) features Christ at the last supper, bathing the feet of his apostles even as he understands that Judas will shortly betray him. This story inspires me to love more selflessly. It teaches me that Christ, the master, would have us engage in leadership tasks with a service minded heart, that the best leader/ teacher will love individually, seeking always to lift up in small, kind acts. It also teaches me that those who who treat me unkindly, even those who would commit the deepest, most tragic betrayal, are loved by my God. He would not only have me forgive the trespasses against me, but nurture the trespasser as well. This reminds me of my dad and a story his brother once told me, of what a good example he has been of this principle. And it makes me pause; I know I have some hefty labor to do in learning to love more purely.
After church, our family likes to share lunch and then have a family meeting, where we celebrate together, look at our weekly schedule, and iron out any bumps in our family road. (For more on that, see tomorrow’s post.) The kids play outside, with the tramp and the bikes off limits. In our family, we strive to avoid shopping and boisterous recreational activities on Sundays. Every LDS family chooses to do this differently, as Sabbath worship is a ritual one has to come develop in his/ her own way. Throughout the afternoon, we play games together, talk together, laugh together, and enjoy some sort of dinner. Tonight, we had my favorite Sunday meal- pot roast with veggies and gravy.
Before turning in, I like to connect the dots and make some weekly goals. Tonight, I’m thinking about our Sunday School lesson about Saul and David, about the pride that drove a good and humble leader to terrible acts of selfishness and violence, about how that pride keeps us from seeing others the way God sees them, and about how pride might be keeping me from being the kind of person I want to be. And I recall a talk, or sermon, really, from long, long ago about pride. I pull it out for better recollection and find that I’ve learned this all before. My copy lies in my journal, folded and worn from repeated annotations. Its author prescribes the antidote for such pride and teaches me again how to seek humility. An excerpt offers this gem:
“Pride fades our feelings of sonship to God and brotherhood to man. It separates and divides us by “ranks,” according to our “riches” and our “chances for learning.” (3 Ne. 6:12.) Unity is impossible for a proud people, and unless we are one we are not the Lord’s. (See Mosiah 18:21; D&C 38:27; D&C 105:2–4; Moses 7:18.)”
As I fold the text and place it back in my journal, my heart fills again, and I know that despite my shortcomings, I have grown and will grow from the treasures that were offered me today.
Until next week, happy sabbath.
*photo credit- The painting featured at the post heading is done by Simon Dewey, a popular LDS artist, and depicts another of my favorite New Testament moments.