As sacrament meeting started I was thinking about the sacrament. I was pondering about the way the Church administers the sacrament. In section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants it tells us that the Priests are only to administer the sacrament when an Elder is not present. It also tell us that teachers and deacons are not to administer the sacrament. If you’re a member of the Church I’m sure you’ve heard the discussion about if someone administering the sacrament is unworthy is that ordinance still valid for those receiving it. The consensus is usually that the worthiness of the administer does not affect the validity of the ordinance for the person receiving it.
But one thing that usually isn’t discussed, is if the ordinance is not administered in the manner prescribed by God is the ordinance still valid. According to my reading of section 20, when we have priests pass the sacrament when an elder is present, and teachers/deacons administer the sacrament at all, it is not complying with section 20. So when we administer the sacrament incorrectly is the sacrament still valid? If a person blessing the sacrament missed but one word in the sacrament prayer they must do it over again. Yet nobody notices when a priest blesses the sacrament when an elder is present. So what do you think? I’ll let you ponder this while I continue on, we’ll continue the discussion later.
We had three sacrament speakers. The first was a youth speaker, Sister E. She spoke about Christ-like service. She related the story of the guy with the nice pocket watch and the woman with the beautiful hair. The woman cut her hair and sold it to buy a chain for the man’s pocket watch. At the same time the man sold his watch to buy a comb for her hair. She told us to give without intention to receive. I liked how she started her talk. Instead of relating some silly story, poem, or joke; she just started right into it. I don’t think Christ would relate a joke to capture his audiences attention before speaking.
But there was one moment in her talk that was awesome. Apparently she had her scriptures on an iPhone or something. She was looking up a scripture to read, and must have been all to aware of the rarity of seeing a sacrament speaker look up their scriptures on a phone. So without missing a beat she said, “In case you’re wondering, I’m not texting. I have my scriptures on here.” With our culture’s obsession with cellphones I could just imagine someone texting while giving a talk. It was awesome that she perceived this and commented on it.
The second speaker spoke on reverence. She spoke about needing to be quiet in church. That we should sit and meditate. She quoted a talk from the December 2009 Ensign Worship through Reverence about schooling our thoughts and actions. Along with schooling our actions at church we(these are the points as she summarized it):
1. Should dress modestly in our nicest clothing.
2. Shouldn’t wear the casual dress of the world.
3. Should avoid loud talking and disruptive behavior in Church.
4. Should be quite during sacrament.
Should Dress Modestly in Our Nicest Clothing
I’ve talked about modestly before. We can search the scriptures all over and no where is there given a limit to what modesty in clothing is. Our modern understanding of modesty comes from our culture, not God. I referred to a Pacific Island where it is modest for men and women to go topless. Modesty in the church today descends from Victorian cultural norms. Hundreds of years ago it was immodest for a woman to show her ankles. Then this changed as skirt lengths went higher and higher. So which one is correct? Whose modesty is correct? Are pacific tribes immodest because they are uncivilized primitives? Was Victorian England wrong because they covered their ankles? Even within church history modesty has changed. So which one of all these is the right type of modesty?
The answer is that none of them are right. Modesty is a result of our culture and God has never given a revelation which defines what modesty is. If any of you can find such a revelation I would like to see it.
As far as our nicest clothing is concerned like modesty I have never found the a requirement from God that we should wear nice clothes to worship. I looked up nice clothing in the Book of Mormon and I discovered something interesting.
The first mention of fine clothing is in 1 Nephi 8:27. In this verse those who inhabited the great and spacious building, in Lehi’s dream, were wearing their nicest clothes.
“…and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine;”
The next mention of fine clothing is in reference to the great and abominable church. In 1 Nephi 13:7, 8:
7 And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots.
8 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.
Not only does the great and abominable church wear their nicest clothing, but it is their desire that they should wear their nicest clothing. I’m not saying the Church is the great and abominable church, rather I am commenting on who gives the desire to wear our nicest clothing, God or Satan.
Next Nephi quotes Isaiah. Referring to the wickedness of the Daughters of Zion in the last days Isaiah(2 Nephi 13:23; Isaiah 3: 23) refers to their wearing of “fine linen.”
Later in 2 Nephi 28:13, Nephi prophesies concerning the last days. The wicked churches of the world will “rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.”
In Alma chapter 1 Gideon was brought before the judges because of his false teachings. One of the attributes of his wickedness was the wearing, “very costly apparel.”
Later in Alma Chapter 1 the church at the time began to become prosperous. Alma 1:27 say that “they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.” Later in verse 29 we learn that these people had an “abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.” Now lets compare these people who, while they had fine cloth, did not wear “nice clothes”; to those people outside of the church. In Alma 1:32 we learn that “those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in…wearing costly apparel.”
On a side note about modesty we learn that the church in Alma while they were rich “they did not send away any who were naked.” This makes me wonder, if some poor person walked into one of our sacrament meetings buck naked, what do you think would happen? Would we welcome them, or cast them out until they were properly dressed? Just something to think about.
Later in the history of the Church in Alma we read that,
6 And it came to pass in the eighth year of the reign of the judges, that the people of the church began to wax proud, because of their exceeding riches, and their fine silks, and their fine-twined linen, and because of their many flocks and herds, and their gold and their silver, and all manner of precious things, which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes, for they began to wear very costly apparel.
It was only after these people became wicked that the desired to wear their nicest clothing. Anyway, long story short I cannot find any reference in the Book of Mormon that people need to wear their nicest clothes to church. Additionally, nearly every reference to someone wearing their nicest clothes is related to their pridefulness. Can we then say that we are the exception? That it may have been true for the Nephites, but for us, we are righteous when we suggest everyone needs to wear their nicest clothes to worship God? 99.99% of the time, wearing nice clothes means a person or people has become prideful. Can we say we are the exception because we live in the year 2010, our church is growing, and we have a “living prophet”?
Shouldn’t Wear the Casual Dress of the World
This is very closely related to the first topic. However it creates a false understanding. This makes it seem that we shouldn’t wear casual dress of the world to worship. But it is ok to wear formal dress of the world to worship.
By mention casual dress we are placing our forms of dress under the Babylonian fashions. Casual, semi-formal, formal, etc. In Babylon certain styles of clothing are used for certain occasions. The same can be said for Zion, temple clothes, etc. But in Babylon clothing are used as an indicator of a person’s “worthiness” to participate in certain activities. If you show up in casual dress at someplace that required formal dress you will be turned away. In Babylon, clothes are used to divide people. If you have nicer clothes you are a better person. Babylon judges people by their outward appearance. If you wear nice clothes you are better able to worship God and have the Spirit.
God does not look upon the outward appearance. Likewise in Zion people will not look on the outward appearance. There won’t be casual, formal, etc. clothes in Zion. There will just be clothes.
What I think this point should say is that we shouldn’t wear the dress of the world. We should avoid the clothes and styles of Babylon.
Doctrine and Covenants 42:40
40 And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands;
It makes me wonder why we are encouraged to wear the our nicest clothes in styles of Babylon to worship the Lord.
Should Avoid Loud Talking and Disruptive Behavior in Church
While I agree with this there is a distinction I would like to make. There is a difference between worshipful behavior and disruptive. Today in the church we are expected to sit quietly and not make a peep. We think that this quietness means we will be able to feel the Spirit better. We are afraid to move a muscle lest we disrupt the Spirit.
But the worship services in the early years of the church was much different. In fact would guess that if a member from our time went back to a worship service in the 1830s, they would probably at least feel uncomfortable. They might even leave.
Early worship services in the church were filled with something our modern services lack, namely, worship. If you were at a worship service in the early church you would hear shouts of “Amen” and “Hallelujah.” The this among other thing invited the Spirit into the services. Today if someone shouted “Hallelujah,” or “Amen” in a meeting they would be accused of being disruptive. They would at least be look at strangely by the members.
Another difference is the Gifts of the Spirit. In the scriptures we learn that the gifts of the Spirit are given so that we may come together as Christ’s Church and benefit from the gifts(D&C 46:12). Prophesying, healing, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, miracles, speaking in tongues, etc, were are they in our meetings. These gift were given so that they would be manifest among us in our meetings. And as such we can benefit from them.
When was the last time you saw a person heal another in sacrament meeting? When we the last time you heard someone stand up and prophecy, or speak in tongues? These gifts are not to be something that we hide because they are too sacred. They are to be openly manifest as a sign of true believers in Christ.
Today we would consider such things as disruptive to our meetings. Yet, in doing so we are restricting the Spirit from manifesting itself among us. Could it be that we don’t want the spirit in our meetings? Do we just want warm, fuzzy feelings that can easily be counterfeited by Satan and our emotions? We have created a Church culture that prohibits the Gifts of the Spirit from being manifest. I wonder who the author of that culture is?
In discussing Christmas the speaker talked about a time when a man embezzled money from her father. They could not afford anything fancy for Christmas. She then went on to say, “Thank was back when we were still young and believed in Santa Claus.” Then there was a short pause. “But we know Santa isn’t real.” Then there was another short pause. “I guess I shouldn’t have said that since we have little kids here.”
Man I just about fell off my pew. But later as she explained how a mystery family had given them a big box of Christmas presents she said that, “Santa lives in each of us.” So because he lives in each of us we should give to others. I am slowly transitioning from one of those who believes Santa is harmless to one of those who believes he if harmful. More and more Santa Claus seems like an idol. We tell people to believe in Santa. We tell them to be like Santa. Have the spirit of Santa with you. The world would be a better place if we all tried to be more like Santa. It has become clear to me that Santa Claus, regardless of however good a person Saint Nicolas was, is just another dol that distracts us from Christ.
This post is getting a bit long so I’ll start wrapping it up. The third speaker talked about cleaning the church buildings. He talked about the differences in the way churches are built and maintained early in the church and they way they are today. He said that cleaning the church can be a spiritual experience. Also that when we are not at church spirits inhabit the church. They might even be previous ward members.
This brother told us that if we will help maintain our church buildings we will:
1. Have pride and a feeling of ownership
2. Feel the spirits who inhabit the building.
3. Receive personal revelation.
4. Have the Lord to be with us.
That’s all I want to talk about for now. I’ll post more of what happened at church in part 2.