Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Noise of Worship

Growing up in a Protestant faith I was used to quiet Sunday services. Hymns were sung with enthusiasm, prayers were said, but unnecessary audience participation was rarely heard. The community of my youth was predominantly LDS and it was a running joke among those outside of the Mormon faith at the noise level of their main Sunday meeting - sacrament meeting. Attending these meetings did little to dispute the stereotype as I observed children moving in and out of pews and parents trying to corral activities and voices. Before I had children I vowed that I would never add to the irreverent activities that I witnessed during my conversion process. But, as motherhood has taught me once and again, I should certainly never say never. My husband and I do the best we can to help our little ones learn reverence and respect for Sunday services, but it is admittedly a long process with very slow results.

Why doesn't our church have a nursery program during sacrament meeting? Wouldn't the added reverence surely help people worship more fully? These questions may have occurred to many a tired parent, but there is a very simple reason why we include all ages in our worship services: the Spirit can testify truth to even the very young (and sometimes disruptive) members of a congregation. Why it would certainly be easier to have young children in a different room, even the very small can learn about eternal truths by being present when they are taught. In a wonderful article that appeared in the Ensign, Joan Hughes and Helen Hughes recounted some important scriptural lessons about children:
"When the Savior ministered to the Nephites following His Resurrection, He
took care to include the children in the transcendent acts of worship that took
place. It is recorded that “he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.” He said to the multitude, “Behold your little ones.” The adults watched in awe as angels descended “as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and … the angels did minister unto them” (3 Nephi 17:21, 23, 24).

Our children were not there; nor were they present during the Savior’s mortal ministry when He said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). Yet our children are also precious to Him, and their hearts can be touched by the Holy Ghost. One of His opportunities to so touch our children is in sacrament meeting, the sacred worship service held in His name for all Church members."

We invite all to attend their local LDS church meetings. We hope that you will feel of the reverence that church members have during sacrament meeting and you will be patient with the little ones that are also there to learn more of our Heavenly Father's plan for all of us.

For LDS parents, two great articles about helping your child learn reverence are found here and here. It is certainly a work in progress in our family! If you have any suggestions for helping children learn these traits, I would certainly love to hear any advice.


Tera said...

I used to be prepared each Sunday with appropriate books, coloring pages, crayons, and snacks. Then my mother-in-law told me that she found that her kids were quieter without such things to fight over or talk about.

Now, I allow each child to bring a couple pieces of paper and a pencil. They may doodle if they wish. But there is no fighting over books or toys, and no demanding snacks. They know there is no use asking for distractions, because I don't carry any. Simplicity has worked best for us so far...

Thanks for sharing Bridget.

Brenda said...

I certainly have empathy for parents with screaming kids; I'm sure parents feel stress when their children are acting up and people are giving them the "evil eye" while thinking - leave the chapel already!

We all have our parts to play. Parents should remove the child if they can't quiet them down quickly; and those who get annoyed should really be more patient.

By the way, I found your blog on Mormon Blogosphere and couldn't resist the title.

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Mrs. Thougthskoto said...

Thanks for this post.
I also told myself when I was still single that I will try the best I could to discipline my kids to be reverent during sacrament meetings.
I now have a 13-month-old daughter, and I'm on constant experiment every week to train her be reverent.
Maybe few more years before I can sit throughout the whole sacrament meeting. lol.