Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sunday Sideliners

I went to hear my brother-in-law speak at the Federal Heights Ward right down the hill from Shriners Hospital in Sale Lake City a few weeks ago.  This chapel features a layout I had never seen before.  The sacrament table was right in front of the pulpit. And it was no small table.  Front and center.  It immediately drew my attention.  Rather than being a sideliner like in most correlated chapel layouts, the sacrament table in this building architecturally was the center.  It caused its symbols to become more apparent, and as the meeting went on it helped all of us remember what the center point of the meeting really is.  Even while observing the speakers, the sacrament table remained within direct field of view.  One couldn't look at the speaker without seeing the sacrament table at the same time.  It helped keep things in proper perspective.

I thought that it was not just a great symbol, but a helpful one.  The atonement, and the sacrament should be at the heart and center of our worship services.  Sometimes they are not, and having the table off to the side of the room doesn't help the fact. It almost makes the sacrament a side topic.  Which ironically, Christ often is a side topic of our meetings.  I've visited who knows how many wards over the past few years, and this is a trend no matter where I go.  Christ gets less and less focus, while men gain more and more praise and adoration. We often know more about leaders, then we do the Lord.      

But back to the sacrament table.  With the table front and center, one can't help but see the white sheet laid over the top of the sacramental emblems and think of the Lord in the tomb.  The contours in the white linens created by the bread and water trays helps the mind reflect on the Lord's body as it lay.  He having literally given His life, body, and blood as a sacrifice for mankind.  Then as one partakes of blessed bread and water, which literally becomes part of the person who partakes, he or she can ponder on the living reality of the Lord.  No longer dead, but alive.  What great symbols the sacrament offers.  

The architecture in most buildings causes our minds to focus on the pulpit and the one speaking.  But that should not be the focus of our meetings.  I wish more churches held this ordinance in the front and center, both in architecture, and in Spirit.   

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Great thought for any day

I really like this saying: "whatever there be that truth can destroy, it should.'"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Confounded Language

Ether 1: 34-35 "And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded."

"That 'we' may not understand 'our' words".  Ever noticed this?  How curious that he refers to a loss of understanding of their own words.  I believe this petition was small scale, limited to a family or small group. 

It's possible for any number of people to speak English with each other and yet at the same time have a confounded language.  While growing up in the Church and attending primary I used to think the Tower of Babel story was a story of people who went to bed one night, and woke up the next morning with one person speaking Chinese, and their next door neighbor woke up speaking Arabic, and their littler brother and sister speaking Spanish. (It was every foreign language speaking missionaries dream come true)  In primary I saw it as an overnight thing that resulted in mass chaos. 

Upon further thought, many many more possibilities and ways to view these scriptures occur to me.  I can't say for sure if people really did just spontaneously obtain fluency in a foreign language.  But what I did want to write about was something that may in fact may be occurring in our day before our eyes.  Language becomes confounded simply by the nature of entropy and our fallen world. 

Interestingly today in church the closing prayer was long and deliberate yet I could not make heads or tails of what the person was saying.  I recognized the English words, yet when strung together they had little meaning.  Think about every day many of us speak English withe each other, yet do not share the same meaning of the words with the person we are speaking with?  Might as well be speaking Spanish to a Russian native.  If you both use the word "Gospel" and one of you is thinking of the chapel you attend on Sunday, and the leaders of some specific religious organization, and the other person is thinking of exclusively the bible and exclusively only certain parts of just the bible, then the conversation is going to hit some early roadblocks.   

Word meanings deteriorate over time.  Just like fallen man himself.  Fallen man's words becomes confounded without the light of truth.  The definitions deteriorate, stray, and dwindle.     

If you can alter the meaning of a scriptural word, and create associations in the minds of the people that trigger the wrong idea and wrong picture you can pretty effectively confound someone.  Take repentance for example.  How much baggage is attached to that word?  What about obedience?  How many people have a totally incorrect image in their head when it comes to obedience?  If we do not understand the word repentance to mean what the scriptural authors intended, then how can we possibly repent?  Can you repent in the way we need to if our understanding of repentanc eis all skewed?  Using the repentance example, you could spend your entire life "stopping" certain things, and at the end fail to ever repent.  Repentance involves "starting" something and "adding" things to your life as well as stopping things.     

Ask yourself if our language is confounded.  I asked myself that, and the answer is yes.  Not only can two people speak English to each other and yet not understand each other, but we are in jeopardy of reading the scriptures and completely missing the meaning, and therefore remain unable to live and apply the teachings.  We then are ripening as a confounded people.
I like the petition Jared asks of his brother for himself and friends.  I think it's as applicable today, as it was then:  "Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words."