We had an excellent discussion of reverence in our combined Priesthood-Relief Society meeting yesterday. At the end of the meeting, I made a comment which provoked mixed reactions after the meeting, and now I am wondering about that comment.
First a little background. We have a very loud ward. Lots of small children. Most of the parents are pretty responsible about tending their children, but such tending produces its own commotion (admonishing in whispers, walking out of the meeting, etc.). It can be pretty distracting.
My children are now old enough that they are beyond the stage where we walk out of the meeting with them. We signal them to be quiet on occasion, but my impression is that they do not cause any more ruckus than most adults. Nevertheless, my memories of those noisier days are pretty fresh, and I am happy to cut parents a lot of slack.
Ok, now back to the Priesthood-Relief Society meeting. When we were asked why we attend Church (by which I mean Sacrament meeting), the first comment was, “To feel the Spirit.” The more I thought about it, the more this seemed like a bad answer. When I make a mental list of my most spiritual experiences, none of them occurred in a Sacrament meeting. Indeed, with the possible exception of the few minutes that comprise the administration of the Sacrament (when most people make a special effort to be quiet), I have no expectation of having a spiritual experience at Church.
So I suggested to our class that those of us who are coming to Church with the expectation of having a personal spiritual experience should reassess their expectations. Communal worship isn’t so much about feeling the Spirit of the Lord as it is about feeling of each other’s spirits. It is about making connections between people. So don’t fret about having your time for pondering during the prelude music; if you want to listen to music and ponder, go to your room at home and put on a CD. Or go to the temple.
Unfortunately, the class ended without time for a rebuttal. I probably could have supplied it myself, but I am curious to hear what others think about this.