Monday, May 23, 2016

Koolaid, Wind, and Fire

(This is a hand out given to the Primary Children of my Ward in Utah by the Stake Primary Presidency.  I assumed it was a pretty big no no to use Kool-Aid in religious settings but perhaps not all are familiar with the history)

Brigham Young, October 6, 1855, JD 3:45.  Says this:

Some may say, “Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am.” I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, “If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,” this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

I don't agree with a good portion of things Brigham Young taught or did. But I do agree with that statement above. I've found however in our day almost no one agree with his statement anymore. In fact I can't go hardly 1 week at church without hearing the exact opposite. I've lost count of how many consecutive weeks I've heard the opposite at some point during the 3 hour period.  It's as if that's the primary teaching now days.  As it was again yesterday during church. There came a moment when I either needed to excuse myself from the room, or else I was going to say some thing which would have likely landed me in the bishop's office. Not wanting to disrupt those who were content with the copious amounts of koolaid being offered, I opted to join the growing group of transients in the hallway comprised of young dads.  

My faith in God is the reason I attend church. I think in order to develop certain characteristics and understandings you need to be around a diverse group of people. It's good for the soul to interact with and come to love and appreciate those who come to a faith based organization to worship who are different, and those who may believe and view life in very different ways. I believe this.  Where my faith in God leads me once I am already at church however has only dawned on me in hindsight.  It's to those ward members who do not fit in. Which to my surprise is a larger group than I expected. The ward members who's views are shut down, the ward members who don't look the part, won't ever be called to leadership positions, or the ward members who are so bored they would rather stand in the hallway and play with baby toys than attend some of the classes.  It's to those I'm drawn, those who's souls may be hungry, but who may lack the words or courage to express it openly for fear of consequences.  These are the people I find more comfort in being around.  I think this too is related to my faith in God.  

I had no idea how many of the ward members felt or what they thought about Church, the Gospel, and their 3 hour block. One unmistakable and undeniable indication was a few weeks ago when there was massive windstorm. 60-70mph winds Sunday morning lead to Church being canceled. This announcement of no Church caused what seemed universal happiness and joy around the neighborhood. Fellow Ward members I hadn't seen smile in a long time were cheerful. Despite the damages to homes, missing shingles, and downed trees, there was a feeling of lightheartedness and joy.  

The ward leadership organized a ward cleanup to pick up around the neighborhood. There is typically not any measurable enthusiasm surrounding manual labor projects. But not this Sunday. Church having been canceled, there was a buzz. There was a new motivation towards service and helping clean up the neighborhood that was uncharacteristic.  It caught my attention.  There was a feeling of relief.  I had to ask my self why is that?  What is it about our worship services that causes relief when they are canceled?  Relief to pretty much everyone.  Has church become mentally oppressive?

Now I've heard and am very familiar with the idea that you only get out of church what you bring to the meeting.  Which in some senses is absolutely true.  Sometimes what I get out of church is limited to the scriptures I brought with me.  My point is not to find fault with anyone, but to just speak openly about some alarming trends.     

There is a rapidly growing number of people who are bored. And having been taught that any lack of the spirit during those 3 hours is their own fault, many people continue to drone on, play on their phone, or skip the meetings altogether to help pass the time.  There are a few core topics which we would only accept like we do because of having heard them so many times our minds presume the concept must be true. It darkens our minds to the point where participation stops, engagement stops, thinking stops, and the Gospel becomes a lifeless bore.  We presume if we needed to know something, we would be taught it from the pulpit, and mistakenly conclude that our duties with the Gospel end there.  The side effect being that since we don't hear about certain things from the pulpit, we can safely set them aside and minimize their importance.  

There is so much I want to say to my fellow ward members.  So much joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I want to talk about.  But I'm often shut down, and silenced, sometimes with conviction. Interestingly, it's not by the people at church who I'm drawn to.  They respond very differently. 

There are so many people I think who are spiritually hungry.  They aren't satisfied with hearing the same correlated material, and watered down gunk year after year.  They are tired of endless opinion sharing in Sunday School, and have noticed that 6 months can go by in Elder's Quorum without reading from the scriptures more than an isolated verse which happened to be embedded in the lesson manual text. They sense that the Gospel has something to offer them, which the current trends simply will not, and at this point cannot deliver to them.  

I think there are people to reach out to.  Who want to be reached out to.  They just need someone willing to.  "We can touch the world when we meet them all at their need". - Earth, Wind, and Fire.

To them I say, read the below book.  Or listen to it for free on youtube.  See what is actually available to you through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you haven’t yet read Preserving the Restoration, I highly suggest you do.  Find what the restoration was intended to accomplish in your life.  Don't leave any good you have, but instead add to it.  Re-awaken something in side you which will light a fire.  I've done this, seen this, and know this independent of any other person.  Don't settle for that which does not edify.  Find what will. Reignite the fire that is too often suffocated in what we call LDS worship services.

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