This morning Aaron and I went to church a little early as usual so we could help set up the gym area of the building for sacrament meeting. Our chapel is so small and out congregation is so large that we always fill the gym as well. If you get in late you end up looking past a basketball goal to see the speaker.
Today was open mike day, Fast and testimony meeting. As I've pointed out before this meeting is either a spiritual meeting or an agonizing ordeal. Today was a little of each. We had the typical precession of kids come to the mike and say almost exactly the same thing. Victoria pointed out to me that when there are that many of them and the all say the same thing it just kinda looks like they've been brainwashed. I agreed. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we have been counseled to avoid vain repeatitions.
The real agonizing part of the service was when member stood up and proceeded to tell us all of her ailments including all of the prescriptions she was on and the dosages. Close to 20 minutes later she sat down without really ever making a point or saying anything uplifting for the rest of the congregation. A friend of mine had the rescue the meeting by telling a cool story about a chance he had to share the gospel with a friend at work while on a business trip.
During Deacon's quorum meeting the Bishop can in and we re-organized the presidency. Aaron is the new president. He picked some good counselors as well. It kind of surprised me who he picked since he doesn't get along with them very well. Perhaps I need to follow his example and learn to forgive those who have trespassed against me. After class we had a presidency meeting. I was very impressed with the way Aaron conducted himself and I the genuine concern that he displayed for the other members of the group. I think he'll do well.
After church decided that I could use a little more churching up so I went down to a Methodist church where a friend of mine plays on their house band and give a lot of service. It was an entirely different experience than I had this morning. First of all the building was very simple but very pretty. I didn't even have to look past a basketball goal to see the speaker. The stage had a full band set up. They started playing right on schedule. The songs were drastically different than anything you'd hear at an LDS service but in many ways I felt were more reverent and sincere than the hymns I've grown used to hearing every Sunday. After a couple songs the pastor encouraged everybody to stand up and get to know the folks around you, so I got up and shook a few hands and talked to people while the band got ready for their next song.
After a few more songs from the band the pastor gave a great sermon on how to pray. She showed a little video that was a parody of the Gieco commercial that had a guy trying to pray and a "celebrity" minister doing it right for him. It was really funny and illustrated the point that sometimes the simple prayers that are from the heart are the most effective. All in all I have more to take away and actually apply in my life than I brought home from our fast and testimony meeting.
Last week I was explaining to Dave the LDS process of assigning talks to members to present a few weeks in advance. Dave passed me a note during this Methodist service, "We need you to prepare a 15 talk on the subject of 'manna from heaven' for next week's service". I'm tempted to have it ready and attend ready to present it.
At church they've been really stressing the fact that we need to tell our friends about the gospel. I've never had a problem telling anybody anything they'd like to know about the church. I've just had a problem when it comes to handing a name and an address over to the missionaries. I can't explain this feeling. I'm not ashamed of the church at all. Perhaps my own spiritual struggles of the last few years have left me more open-minded about exposing myself to other faiths. The first person I felt comfortable to discuss my feeling about being challenged by missionaries was Dave, my Methodist friend. I find it more than a little ironic that my reaction to being asked to bring a friend to church was to accept a friend's invitation to attend his church.
As I was leaving they gave me a first time visitor gift, a coffee cup, an NIV New Testament and a couple chocolates. The kids ate the chocolates. The New Testament is just small enough to be a good size for backpacking. And the coffee cup will probably make it to the office for my daily herb teas.
I've never had a problem accepting truth no matter what the source. It was refreshing today to get some truth from another source.
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