Sunday, February 2, 2014

Rest from thy Labors

Dear Josten, 

Well, you're witnessing it live and in the flesh.  Your mom's experienced a quick case of burnout, and it only took about 5 weeks.  Today after church, I slept for about four hours.  It's been a rough week.  On top of it, Sundays are at very least not a morning of rest.  

We arise, shower, eat, dress in our best, gather books, bags, gadgets, and load into the car.  We drive to church, and you and your siblings wiggle through the sacrament.  If we let you play video games, you are calm.  If we don't, you are wiggly and need drinks, bathroom trips, and more.  

After sacrament meeting, we go to Primary.  We all go to Primary, except for Dad.  I go from wrangling four young kids between the ages of 3 and 10, to up to nine 3- and 4-year olds.  The other teacher and I are to help keep all 7-9 (usually it's just 7 that show up on any given week) reverent through Opening Exercises, Singing Time and Sharing Time.  If my calculations are right, this is asking a young child to sit still for about 2 hours and 10 minutes, minus the walk from the chapel to the Primary room.  I wouldn't take my child to a movie theater for a movie that long, cartoon or no.  Then we go to class, where we squish in the almost-largest of the classrooms (which is still only about 9' x 8' or so.  The class could be divided.  That would mean two more teachers would need to be called from an ever-growing list of adults who hang in the hall, since I would not want to be left alone with even 3-4 of the children.  You never know what needs will arise.  
9 And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer. (D.&.C. 59: 9-14)

Oblantions, defined on link above, describes "oblations" as "offerings, whether of time, talents, or means, in service of God and fellowman".  Google defines it as a thing presented or offered to God or a god.  I find the difference a little startling.  Oblations on appears to be more of sacrifice of time, talents, etc. in service.  Oblations on Google appears more strictly as an offering directly to God.  I know King Benjamin says when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God.  But this is not service.  This is oblations - an "offering".  How would church look like if we took this literally?  How would our Sabbath days play out?

Could you imagine going to church, offering oblations and sacraments, confessing our sins to our brethren, and resting from our labors?  What would it look like to publicly humble ourselves before our brethren, confessing out sins?  Would we be more apt to help one another through true struggles, rather than hiding them under blankets and rugs?

How would it look like if the bishopric got to sit with their families and multiple children, so the wives would be more inclined to rest, rather than struggle for reverence through talks and recitations of conference talks?  How about meetings before and after church?  How about three hours of meetings, period?  What if our worship looked more like worship than a funeral?

What about rejoicing and prayer?

What about vows being offered on all days?

What about fasting?  Should it be every Sunday?  Or just one?

I love going to church, don't get me wrong.  Sunday used to be my favorite day of the week before I had kids, and it still kind of is.  But now it has turned into a struggle, and I ponder why God would give these counsels to Joseph if He intended for us to struggle to maintain the image of quiet, seen and not heard children for three hours of what we call worship.  And in case anyone disagrees, why do we need to take our children out of the sacrament room when they're noisy?  Sure, it's not a rule.  But the fact that it is expected as a courtesy tells me that what we are doing is certainly worth considering, in relation to the commandment above.  It's not worship, it's really not.  How do we overcome what we have become?

I hope by the time you really get to read this that things have changed.  We shifted from a multi-meetings-a-week routing to this three hour block, and yet we still have mid-week meetings, for some of us multiple times a week.  I yearn for a day of more simplicity, truth, and wholeness in worship.

Love you,