One thing that I’ve been interested to observe about ” home church” is how often I hear people admit that they really don’t want to go back to meeting with their ward. Of course there are exceptions to this – but how often I hear people secretly admit that they love home sacrament meeting so much more than going to church, and will be disappointed when they have to return, has been genuinely interesting to me.
I’ve thought a lot about this. Why is home sacrament meeting so great? Why don’t we, in general, have the same experience and joy in our ward families?
When thinking about the sacrament there are some things that makes it a very unique ordinance. First, it is not an ordinance that is administered generally to a singe individual. We don’t insert our individual names into the sacrament prayers. It is a collective ordinance – blessed and administered to all who gather to take it together.
As a collective ordinance, we can also look at our practices and ordinances and see if there is anything else we do that is also a collective ordinance. What’s interesting is that there is another ordinance/practice that can be used to inform our practice of the sacrament.
In our temple worship we are taught the true order of prayer. As another collective ordinance, in which once again we are not individually named but are treated as a unified body, we can learn about the principles taught about how that ordinance works.
The true order of prayer is predicated on the principle of unity of feeling. We are not to have any unkind feelings towards each other. If they exist, we are invited to not participate in the prayer. This is a fantastic principle that teaches us how we need to have a condition of heart before the desired blessing of the true order of prayer can be realized.
It strikes me that the same principle applies to the sacrament. Why would it be any different? If we are coming together to collectively partake of the sacrament why wouldn’t the same principle of not having any unkind feelings between each other make the difference between having a collective spiritual experience and not?
This insight into how those that partake the sacrament together need to have the best of feelings towards each other informs our initial question. Perhaps it is because within the family unit you will find the environment where the best of feelings are felt. We feel unity. Coming together in a living room, making the choice to worship without a social expectation. Controlling the content and spirit of the meeting – all of these things are preferred to meeting in a large group of people when there is no guarantee of a unified spiritual feeling.
So this unplanned social experiment perhaps teaches us about a principle that should have been on the forefront of our minds all along. What would happen if we started keeping the principles that govern the collective ordinances we regularly practice? What would happen if a ward was able to rid themselves of unkind feelings of any kind before they came together and partook of the sacrament?
What kind of spiritual outpouring would be experienced in a ward that truly repented of their judgment, unkind feelings, backbiting, gossip, and disunity? What would that testimony meeting look like?
Impossible? Possible? Perhaps we should seriously pause before we jump back in and start taking this sacred ordinance without the qualifying spiritual unity the Lord requires for his people to possess before they partake of his emblems in his name.
Too high of a bar? How can we embrace the very real warning that “if you are not one you are not mine”?