Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why don't we kneel during the sacrament?

I remember when I was a child, sitting in Sacrament Meeting.  We worshiped in another church's building, rented by our ward, because we were not large enough in size to have our own building.  I remember kneeling in between the pews, sitting on the floor with my sister, playing dolls or coloring or something.

There was one Sunday that keeps sticking in my memory, where I asked my mom, "Why don't we kneel to say the prayers?"  She answered that it was ok for me to kneel.  But she didn't kneel, and I never understood why.  I just presumed it was ... just an arbitrary rule?  I don't know.  But I didn't think too much of it or make any waves.

In the last few years, I've had lots of questions called to mind, in the sense that there were many that I just "presumed" (there's that word again) had no answers.  We hear this from investigators, who presumed there were not answers to their questions given by their preachers, so they just roll with the status quo.

The difference for me now is that there are some people suggesting that it is ok to ask questions.  For one, James 1:5 directs us to ask of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not.  Joseph Smith repeats this test, putting it in action and illustrating that it works.  As missionaries we teach this to investigators - it is one of the first things we encourage.  But it seems to stop upon entering the waters of baptism.  If there are questions about why we do something, the answers typically are found in the Church Handbook of Instructions.

In returning to the question I asked my mother, "Why don't we kneel to say the prayers?"  After all, this was how we prayed nightly at home.  But in church we sit in our seats, unmoved.

The Church handbook describes that those blessing the sacrament kneel.  It is a solemn occasion.  But what about the rest of us?  Is there a scriptural precedent?

When I began my scripture study this morning, I asked, "Where should I study?"  The answer came to me: "Moroni 4:10".  Ok.  But there is no Moroni 4:10!  When I opened the page, my eyes landed on Moroni 4:2, which reads this:

And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying:
Ok.  So the Nephites blessing the bread knelt down, and it appears that the church members were kneeling too, as those blessing the bread did "kneel down with" (emphasis added).  So what about the modern day church?  D&C 20:76 reads:

And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying:   
It appears that the wording is the same in both Moroni's time and Joseph Smith's.  So when did the change occur?  When did we stop kneeling for the blessing of the holy sacrament, and why?  A few thoughts.

Maybe it was for the breastfeeding moms, who didn't want to disturb their babies to kneel up and down.
Maybe it was for the elderly.  Surely their knees hurt.  I know my parents struggle to sit and stand, not to mention kneeling down.
Maybe it was noisy and disheveling?
Maybe it was impractical, when there might have been mud on the ground, before buildings were made?
Maybe it soiled the women's dresses and the men's tailored pants, causing more work for the women to get dirt out of the clothes?

Does this matter?  Would it make the sacrament more spiritual if we knelt?  Some would say not.  I would say there is definitely a powerful element added to prayer when I have experienced it in a group of leaders praying together on their knees.  There is added humility.  After all, who else do you kneel to?

Follow-up question - what would it hurt to begin kneeling for the sacramental prayers?  Would it be disruptive?  Considered inappropriate?  If so, why?  Would it be against the Handbook of Instructions?  If so, where and why?  Who is stopping us from enhancing the power of this sacred ordinance?  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Best Father

This past week seems to have an air of discontentment.  The full moon was rising to a crest two nights ago.  Mercury is in "Retrograde", and lots of people are feeling down and depressed, neglected and ignored.  I really don't fully understand how the solar systems work, but I'm sure this is something important that somebody understands!

Over the course of the last year, our Stake Presidency has encouraged our stake to come up with a "Family Mission Plan".  They stress its inspiration, and encourage us to prayerfully make a plan to better share the gospel (church) with those around us.  Our family is to create some achievable goals, prayerfully of course.  During several meetings with the missionaries, I tended to resist these efforts due to my own personal feelings at the time, but in the last few weeks I decided, eh, what the heck?  After all, aren't we here to experience the journey of working with other people to improve ourselves?  If not, God surely could've put us each on a world with one other human to figure out if we'd like to be alone, together, procreate, whatever.  But he didn't.  We're all here together, smushed to the point where we often try to avoid one another.  

About two weeks ago, I decided I was going to put my best foot forward and try to get to know some of the strangers surrounding me.  I was going to host a Norwex microfiber cloth party for my friend who sells the stuff.  I sell doTERRA, and after teaching endless classes the last four months, I was ready to gather my own friends and not have to teach!  I did a Facebook invite, then filled out cards and hand delivered them to neighbors, friends, and family.  I said, "Please come.  You don't have to buy anything, I just want to hang out with my friends, (or in the case of neighbors, get to know them better) and wanted something to do since I don't do board games very well.  We'll have a campfire if the weather's good, we can swim in the pool, or just hang out and chat."  I also didn't have money to put on a large, extravagant dinner, so this seemed like a harmless idea, and Norwex is virtually unheard of in these parts.  This was going to be my missionary moment, not to convert anyone, but simply just to get to know people better, and feel a spirit of brother/sisterly love more readily in our neighborhood.  After all, when the crap hits the fan, you want to at least have a feel for who's going to be knocking on your door for help (or whatever good or bad scenario you can come up with).  

Some of my neighbors took the card; some of them declined, and then took it after I asked them to think about it.  My church friends took it and didn't really respond with a "Oh yeah, sounds like a party!"  It was more like a "Gee... thanks?"  I got one "yes" RSVP.  The rest were maybes, a few nos, and mostly no response whatsoever (which I think is kinda ruder than just saying no thanks).  

I guess this is what the world has come to, when friendly people can only get together when their church requires it of them twice or thrice a week.  Or if free food is involved.  We can hardly look at one another in the hall after church, we are so eager to leave the building.  We can't join one another for meals, unless they're in the ward building.  I literally have a hard time even squeezing out a "hello" from half the people I pass in the hall.  Is there something wrong with me?  

On the flip side of the coin, today I actually feel disinclined to say hello to one sister, after a recent call where she told me about a church activity and refused to let me even get a word in edgewise.  Why would I want to talk to her, when the only "communication" going on was from her to me?  Is this what brothers and sisters and friends and neighbors should look like?  

Well, my "party" only had one guest, besides me, my mom (whom I co-hosted with), and my Norwex friend.  The one guest attends my church, so I'm not sure that that counts as a "missionary moment".  I hope we strengthened one another though, and I say that in the truest sense.  I had never had the chance to have her in my home, and it was truly a joy to get to laugh and visit with her, without the pulling of kids and 50 other adults like we have at typical church functions.  So that was good.  

When it was all said and done, I did a lot of pondering.  What was the point, in me walking invitations to several neighbors?  Do they live in the country because they like being left alone?  Probably.  And will I invite them to my home again?  Mmm, likely not.  This was a stretch for me, and I'm pretty confident that we haven't been that social with one another for a reason.  They don't want to associate with the Mormon on the street, so whatever.  Maybe it has nothing to do with Mormonism, and as a whole, we're just plain tired and want to rest when we can rest.  Who knows. 

So what was the point?  Beyond that, I've been searching for years on various blogs to find like minded individuals who I can chat with about things I've learned, dug for, and felt inspired about.  I am grateful my loving Father has quietly guided me to some real gems, but once again, I feel many are much like the neighbors.  They do their thing (writing) but really seem to prefer to be left alone.  Do I want to associate with them?  Am I seeking something by attempting to become friends with strangers?  Or am I trying to prepare for something greater?  I hope that's the case.  

When it comes down to it, during the full moon, post-Norwex-party, mid-Mercury-Retrograde, I think God would likely prefer it that I turn to Him, and turn off the computer, the TV (for my kids), quit frazzling myself with church and in-home parties, and crack open the scriptures.  When I feel most like this, the neon signs seem to blink vividly that I have lost touch with my Maker.  Shut it all down, Jen.  Go to the Source.  That's where true happiness, even true friendship is found.  It's obvious that even with our best human intentions, it will never be enough.

Happy Father's Day to the only "best" Father in the Universe.  <3  Trying to be a more connected daughter.  And Happy Father's Day to the men trying to emulate Him.   

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Picking Strawberries

Dear Daniel,

Boy oh boy, lots on my mind today!  Thank you for joining me in strawberry picking.  We tried to do this last week, but ended up showing up at the strawberry patch on the wrong day, and it was closed.

We made it today though!  Had a great time with Magdalene and Austin, picking among the many, many rows.  Wish I would've gotten a picture, but I think there's something to be said for leaving the camera at home and simply enjoying the experience.

It seemed like many of the "super-red" strawberries we aimed to pick were ones that looked like this:

There are no more than six strawberries in this photo.  Do you think this is the way that the Gods intended strawberries to look like, when the earth was so masterfully created?  (See the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price for some great gems on the creation of the earth if you are wondering why I wrote "Gods" instead of "God".:)

Part of the Word of Wisdom states this:

"Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—" (D&C 89:4)

I may be taking this out of context to apply it to the verse, but the Lord points out that there will be conspiring men which will have evils and designs in mind to put into play among us.  I'm sure these strawberries likely grew with the support of sun, rain, good soil, and some added fertilizer.  In fact, they probably also had some great pesticide ("pest" meaning unwanted critters, "icide" seeming to denote death), since during the hour+ that we were there, I only found one living critter.  It was a teeny, tiny baby slug of some kind, enjoying eating the strawberry.  I showed it to you and then placed it back among the other strawberries to enjoy.

Anyways... this looks like a Three Mile Island strawberry.  At least 15% or so of what we picked look like this triple- or quadruple-berry strawberry mutation.  Is this safe to eat?  Surely it must not cause stomach ache or other issues.  But why are there seemingly 3-4 points on this one?  What makes the cells grow this way?  What will this do to my body, if on a DNA level, this berry is altered?  Is this the result of fertilizer, pesticide, or years of hybridization of the plant?  Is this intended to create ease of picking, or cause awe and great interest, thereby bringing in increased revenue?  Or is it an unintended consequence of the chemicals applied to help it grow?

Certainly food for thought.  Yes, there are no bugs on it (beyond the baby slug), and I hand picked it, so that seems to give an air of being organic.  But this definitely does not appear to be organic, unless that equals the appearance of a mutation of what a strawberry is supposed to be.

Eat with care!  I'll pray the mutation stops with the strawberries, and that we can take care of these bodies we have been so blessed to have!

~Mom<3 :) 

Monday, June 9, 2014


Dear Austin,

Tonight you read "thcriptures" with us for the first time.  What a joy!  We read D&C 36.  It was just you and Magdalene and Josten and I.  Magdalene wanted to read, but the decided not to, and while she was being wishy-washy, you started reading, which caused her to pitch a fit.  Despite that, how beautiful, to hear your little kindergartener voice reading scriptures, as if you'd been reading them all your life!  Where did you learn to read like that?  I never heard you read your school books quite so well.  What a tender gift, to hear your new-found knowledge being applied to the words of our Lord.  From the mouth of babes.