It’s a little strange to go to church in my parent’s ward. They still live in the house I grew up in, in a small Mormon town, and even though they haven’t moved, their ward boundaries have.
(In case I have any non-Mormons reading this, a little note of explanation. Mormon congregations are called “Wards”, and they are organized by geographical location. The main church meeting is called Sacrament Meeting, and this is where, unsurprisingly, we take the sacrament, bread and water that represent the body and blood of Christ, similar to Catholic Eucharist. We also don’t have a paid clergy, so speakers for Sacrament Meeting are pulled from the congregation. After Sacrament Meeting, we divide by age group and, occasionally, by interest of study, into Sunday School classes. After Sunday School, the men go to their Priesthood meeting, and the women go to Relief Society. The course of study for Sunday School, Priesthood and Relief Society is all determined by church leaders in Salt Lake, so every ward, in theory, is having the same lesson every week. The Priesthood and Relief Society lessons are also taught out of the same manual, so men and women receive the same lesson, just not together. There is also the Primary, Young Mens and Young Women’s programs for children and youth, which I will explain further if I ever have reason to talk about them.)
With the change in the ward boundaries, things have gotten a little strange for me. First of all, my favorite high school teacher is in my parents ward. Second of all, it seems like a fair number of jocks that I went to high school with have ether moved back to town or never left, and they are living in my parents ward.
All this is a very long explanation to talk about what happened in church today. Boo, the star of the high school football team (and yes, that’s what he chooses to call himself) and his wife were two of the speakers in Sacrament today. Boo hadn’t been active in the church when they first met, and they weren’t married in the temple.
(Another note of explanation. While the LDS Church recognizes civil marriages, we believe that such unions will end at death. When a couple is married in the temple, we believe that if both spouses stay worthy, that that marriage will last for eternity. However, if a couple is not married in the temple, [and there are some states and governments that do not recognize a temple marriage as legally valid] they can go later to be sealed, which is essentially the same thing. Children who are born to a couple who were married or sealed in the temple are also sealed to their parents and can be a part of their family forever. If a child was born before the sealing took place, or if a child is adopted into a family, they can also be sealed to their parents in the temple.
We also perform this work for our dead ancestors in the temple.)
Boo and his wife both spoke on preparing to go to the temple to be sealed. It was a very touching experience for me. I have two callings, (jobs in the church) Relief Society teacher, and Temple Committee co-chair. One of my duties in the temple committee is to teach the temple prep class, to help the members of my ward prepare to enter the temple.
(What, more explanation? I know there are a lot of people who don’t understand why we don’t let just anyone into our temples. I hope I can clear it up a bit. We believe that the temples are the most sacred spots on the earth. Inside, we are taught sacred truths. Even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not allowed inside the temple unless they are approved by their ward and stake [a stake is a collection of wards] leaders, and issued a recommend. My temple prep class is to help those members who are worthy to receive a temple recommend to be ready to receive those sacred truths.)
My temple prep class has had me discouraged lately. The members of my class are brought in by invitation, and tend to be 19-20-21 year old girls and their recently returned missionary fiancées. (a missionary, male or female, goes through the temple before departing on their mission) The girls, the ones who the class is for, seem to treat it as a joke, or are too shy to comment, so much of the discussion takes place among the fiancées, who have already been through the temple. While this is understandable to a certain extent–we are not supposed to talk about much of what happens in the temple outside of its sacred walls, so trying to prepare someone to enter requires a lot of talk about seemingly random topics that can be difficult to understand unless you have been through the temple, it’s still frustrating. I don’t know how much these girls are taking away, or if they are treating this topic of eternal importance with the gravity it deserves.
Which brings me back to Boo. He said in his talk today that the only reason he went to the temple prep classes was because they served refreshments afterwards. He didn’t really take much away, but, when he got to the temple, he realized how much they helped.
Granted, I was already emotional because I was feeling overwhelmed by being around so many people, and the past few days have been on the down side of things. (um, not a church explanation, but rather a personal one. “Down day” is my own personal code for a day when I’ve been noticeably more depressed for much of the day) So when Boo made that statement, I started to cry. I needed to hear that just because I don’t think the girls are taking anything out of the class doesn’t mean that they aren’t, and they probably won’t realize how much they needed the classes until they go through the temple, get married and move out of my ward.
I’m so glad to have had that reminder. I just would have never expected it to come from that source.