Sunday, April 13, 2014

Speaking in Sacrament

To onlookers the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints (whose members are commonly referred to as Mormons) must appear to run on volunteer status. There are no paid clergy positions. Not even at the highest levels of the Church structure. Yes, the organization itself has employees -- techies that run and, media/movie people who create bible videos and the I am a Mormon campaign, and others. But at the local level the entire congregation is run through service hours.

The Bishop has a family and a career of his own (two requirements to becoming Bishop, actually). Missionaries pay for their own living (well, the payments are based on socialist structures -- every missionary pays a certain monthly allotment regardless of where they are assigned to serve -- to adjust the demands of high cost living areas). And the meetings and classes that take place each Sunday are prepared by members of the local congregation.

Today, it was my turn to speak in Sacrament meeting. For my father's pleasure (and anyone else who cares to read it) I will post my talk below tomorrow.

When I first draft a talk I do so in a more formal, essay writing style. As I rehearse the final draft (at least a half dozen times) I find myself changing the writing (but not the content) so that it sounds more natural. I don't want to sound like I am reading scriptures from the pulpit. I want to sound authentic -- well studied and enlightening, but authentic. Why am I telling you all this? I suppose it is to warn you that the below (well, now it is above, because I posted it tomorrow) talk is written with a blend of voices. I don't know, maybe all my "voices" sound the same -- maybe it is just the English teacher in me that thinks each style of writing and topic being discussed needs it's own voice. Also, I always change my intro, so that I can refer to the previous speaker's content and thank them for their words. And my ending is always a sincere testimony of the heart -- nothing pre-written. So those two elements are missing.

A couple humorous bits to envision while you read. The fourth page of my talk printed blank ... so I used my phone (and apologized to the audience for doing so -- part of my on the whim intro) to read the last part of my talk. Thank goodness for Google docs and the foresight prompting from the Holy Ghost to bring my phone up to the stand with me. We were already 15 minutes into sacrament meeting before I realized my final page was blank.

Second humorous/irreverent thing to envision ... my children. Nell was not about to sit on the pew while I sat on the stand. This meant Ben had to take her out into the foyer for most of the meeting. Reid on the other hand, Reid was a champ. He sat on the pew all by himself, almost as reverent as could be. His Thomas umbrella opened up once, but he quickly closed it when he saw my disapproving head shake (I'll take the blame here, should have hung it in the coat closet). A young girl sitting on the other half of the pew was kind enough to entertain him (ie pull the squares off his button snake for him, so that he could thread it over and over), but just when I passed the half way mark of my talk he started calling out for me.



And I knew it was just going to get louder.

"Mommy, I want to come help you."

So I had to act, right there in the middle of my talk. Would I let him come up to the stand and hope that a hug would soothe the sweet little boy who had sat quietly on a pew without a single family member for 30 full minutes of church, or would I let my friend who was trying to signal for him to come to her grab his arm and stop him? Oh, I just knew he'd make a big(ger) scene when she tried to stop him. So I let him come.

I kept reading and talking, but up he came. The Bishopric members tried to stop him, but I waved him to my leg, where I knew he would want to latch on. I hoped he would just stay latched. But eventually he wanted to be held. So I picked him up, and proceeded with my talk (I apologized, and searched for Ben in the foyer -- all while continuing to read my talk).

Then it happened, he was getting more squirmy and I was about to need to scroll through my phone for the last bits of my talk ... I finally just put him down and whispered into his ear, can you go find Daddy? Ben had reappeared in the foyer.

He said no. But when a visiting high council member tried to motion him to sit in my empty seat he decided to go find daddy.

You'd imagine the story ends there. But it doesn't. Once out in the foyer with Ben and Nell, he asked to return to me; Ben obviously told him no ... and he burst into tears. I could hear it, all the way from the foyer. All while I kept reading my talk ... trying to maintain eye contact with the audience and use a voice that sounded authentic, instead of rote.

Sigh, it's a talk to remember I suppose. The moment I was done I left the room. I had to go rescue Ben from the two crying children in the foyer. The two children who could be heard in the sacrament room. Ben told me he and Nell had to leave the foyer when I began talking because she became so upset that she could hear my voice (overhead speakers amplify the meeting in the foyer) but couldn't go to me. The moment he reappeared was the moment I asked Reid to go find Daddy, and within a minute of that he had two crying kids instead of one. Sigh.

A sweet couple that was visiting from Florida made a point of searching me out after the meeting and telling me I had a very radiant spirit about me, both during my talk and my mothering. So I suppose it might not have looked as bad as I can imagine. As long as I was radiating love through it all, I suppose Christ's message wasn't lost.

Okay ... so this "intro" to my talk turned into it's own post. I should have known it would -- considering all the entertainment I had to describe. I guess I'll post the actual talk tomorrow. So stay tuned.

I'm going to celebrate that I got a two (posts) for one (topic)! I'm almost a quarter into my goal of writing everyday -- no stopping me now!

Why didn't she just sleep through the meeting?
 And I sure hope he didn't look like this ^^^ while he was at the pulpit with me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless...

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