Sunday, February 5, 2017

Church Services

I walked into the chapel with a frown on my face. I’m not sure I’m up for this, I thought. Sitting through an hour plus of Sacrament Meeting with 5 kids and then wrangling other people’s kids in nursery for 2 more hours seemed like more than I could handle. Especially after the morning I’d had. Yet, here I was, walking into the chapel, practically asking for it.

I unloaded my bag and children onto the pew and listened to the prelude music. Now that’s a cushy calling, I thought, if I had someone to sit with my kids. I wouldn’t mind that calling. I noticed a friend walk in with her four very young children. She serves in the sunbeams. I’m sure she feels the same way I do, I guess. And that sister over there, I tell myself, is going through some pretty intense trials right now. I wouldn’t trade my calling for what she’s going through. Just then my good friend who is Young Women’s President walked down the aisle. There’s no way I would trade for her calling, I thought. Come to think of it, I continued my private dialog in my head, I’m not sure there is a calling I would trade for. If all the callings were laid out in front of me today, I’m not sure I would pick any of them. I’m pretty much just tired of serving. How about no callings? I cheered to myself. I shook my head, feeling mildly sacrilegious and guilty for my train of thought as the prelude music came to a close.

The 1st counselor in the bishopric stood to begin the meeting. “I’m Brother Finken. Bishop Brown is presiding at this meeting.” My eyes filled with tears. This is just too much. This burden is just too heavy. My husband presides over this meeting. He presides over this ward. And it’s been a long time and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of it all. Can’t we just take a break? Why are we doing this? Why do we stretch ourselves so thin sometimes in church callings? What’s the purpose of all these callings? Why not come for the sacrament and leave? Isn’t that the main point? Why all the extra work?

Lost in my doubtful thoughts, I was startled when the organist began playing the introduction to the sacrament hymn. I mechanically pulled the hymnbook from the back of the pew in front of me, although I didn’t feel like singing. “Oh how lovely was the morning. Radiant beamed the sun above.” But I knew these words. I didn’t need to open the book. “Humbly kneeling, sweet appealing- T’was the boy’s first uttered prayer-” Had I uttered a prayer this morning? I wondered. Could my doubts and discouragement be considered a prayer? Did Heavenly Father hear me, today, in this chapel? “Suddenly a light descended, brighter far than noon day sun.” I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. Though offered with intention or not, God had heard me and answered my prayer. He responded in full Spirit to my faltering faith and determination. He did hear me in the middle of this chapel, lost in the middle of my doubt.

“Joseph, this is my Beloved. Hear Him!” Oh, how sweet the word.” My doubt dissipated like ash into the night sky, leaving only the burning embers of faith. This is why we serve. Because God hears and answers prayers. We have living prophets on the earth and Joseph was the first of this dispensation. He restored the true and full gospel to the earth. This is why we serve, and I knew it with my whole heart. I serve because He asks me to. Because I love Him. Because it’s true. The Bible, the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, the Priesthood, the Harvest Hills 2nd Ward. It’s all true and it all matters. It matters so much that it moves me to action and service in the church, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard.

“Oh, what rapture filled his bosom, for he saw the living God.”