“What the Church means to me”

Elder Richard Hinckley has suggested that we keep a record of “what membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints means to me.” I invite you to contribute your thoughts below, thus creating a bloggernacle e-record to reflect Elder Hinckley’s challenge. Here’s what the Church means to me:

Friendship and fellowship, the kind that transcends nations, colour, and circumstance. A sense of reason and purpose amidst the madness of this world. A vision of Greater Things, a perspective of God and humanity that takes our souls to the stars but demands we keep our feet on the earth. The beauty of practical ethics, morality and sacrifice. Covenants and solemn promises for good. Family. Angel Moroni in the sunshine. The terrible empathy of Mormonism’s weeping God. The latter-day testament of Jesus the Christ. And much more…

Please add your thoughts.

Comments

  1. john scherer says:

    Excellent Post. I’ll add one for now…

    The memory of my children dressed in white in the sealing room of the DC Temple and looking at my wife realizing we had all that we’ve ever prayed for.

  2. Baptizing my son.

    Prayers and answers. The atonement. Moments in which it all seems to make sense. Communities of friends and fellow-saints. The ability to move across the country and immediately have a community.

    Confusion. Weird inconsistencies that drive me crazy. Forced smiles. Closed-minded members. Patriarchy, for both good and ill.

    My mission – both the good and the bad. Primary, where the kids have fun. Music – sometimes good, sometimes bad, usually enthusiastic.

    Bloggernacle. My journal. Learning who am I and how it all fits (or doesn’t fit) together.

  3. Julie M. Smith says:

    The knowledge of the reality of Jesus Christ.

    The temple.

    My four year old saying “I feel holy right now” during FHE.

  4. Love.

    Opportunities to serve and to learn to love as God loves.

    A sense of purpose and direction. Knowledge of my potential and how to reach it.

  5. Costanza says:

    The constant call to improve myself, the never-ending challenge to be better, to be more.

    The blessing of being infinitely better than I would be without it, but still not good enough. Knowing that Christ’s atonement makes up the difference.

    Experiencing the timelessness of the temple.

    Surrendering my demand for absolute proof and rationality on the altar of faith.

  6. Mark IV says:

    The immediacy of Christ in 3rd Nephi.

    The reality of repentance and forgiveness.

    An explanation of our eternal nature that is coherent, despite its sketchiness, and which gives meaning and structure to our lives.

    Home teaching (I’m serious!)

    A vision of Zion.

    A family kneeling at the altar and clasping hands as they are sealed.

  7. Geez, Ronan. That’s easy. In a nutshell, it’s like this:

    • Giving the girls a bath in the morning before church
    • Reading the Book of Mormon with the family
    • Going home teaching (hopefully before the last week of the month)
    • Meeting with the presidency that I belong to
    • Getting home in time for my wife to go to Enrichment
    • Listening to a prophet’s voice
    • Sorting through garments that I should probably throw away
    • Feeding the missionaries
    • Praising the prophet Joseph Smith
    • Helping my daughters prepare family home evening
    • Saying something nice to help someone overcome nervousness of discomfort
    • Carrying a crying baby out of sacrament meeting
    • Talking with Jack from the deacons quorum about Japanese super heros
    • Kneeling together for family prayer
    • Participating in priesthood ordinances
    • Listening to father’s bless their babies
    • Smiling when certain people get up to bear their testimonies—for good reasons
    • Waiting to hear who’s been called to what after a long string of releases
    • Rendering service required by my calling
    • Helping my girls prepare talks
    • Taking the sacrament
    • Helping my wife with the primary bulletin board
    • Smiling when certain people are called on to answer a question in gospel doctrine—not always for the best reasons
    • Looking in the program at the start of sacrament meeting to see who will be speaking
    • Visiting the temple
    • Hearing what my girls learned during primary
    • Moving people in and out of the ward
    • Setting up and taking down chairs and tables in the cultural hall

    I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

  8. Covenant relationships.

    Principles of happiness.

    Family–some no longer living; some (many) far away.

  9. S. P. Bailey says:

    I am with my brothers and brothers in law: a lawyer, a surgeon, two college students, and a high school sophomore. The latter’s hair, tight pants, and punk t-shirt showing through his dress shirt turn heads as we walk through the foyer. His look no doubt belongs in a club somewhere, moshing or opening up for another act. But our conversation in the car just now–he asked about my mission–tells me not to worry. We sit. We are ten minutes early, but the stake center is already packed halfway to the stage. Listening to the satelite prelude, I notice the others as they enter. The fathers with sons stand out to me, particularly the multiple generation groups. The temple comes to mind. And hearts turning, hearts of fathers and children. Continuing the theme, Richard Hinckley invokes memories from my childhood: an articulate young member of the first presidency. President Monson speaks: he seems both funnier and more piercing in his insight than I remember. Feeling chastened, I tell myself: sustain this man as the Prophet when the time comes. President Hinckley speaks. As usual he is self-effacing, wise, optimistic. Repent he says in more concrete terms. And believe in the Restoration. “Hear our Prophet, world!,” I think. Sadness. It doesn’t hear him enough. It may not hear him much longer. But at least we do, me, my brothers, my brothers in law, and the others, the fathers and sons. I take note of the moment, it is fleeting, and the pride I feel sitting there.

  10. Lamonte says:

    The “Church” is the community that reminds me of who I am and how I should live my life. They are there to lift me up whenever I fall and they are there for me to serve whenever I can. We walk side by side in our journey back to the presence of the Father.

    The “gospel” is what makes sense in a sometimes senseless world. It is the plan that I can point to when trying to guide my sons in the right direction. It is one thing that I know will hold my family together for eternity.

  11. An acquaintance with a loving, involved God

    The oppotunity to truly better myself

    A proper concept of eternity, spent with people I love

    Funeral Potatoes

  12. john scherer says:

    Blessing my son in front of my non member family.

    Worrying about the subsequent testimonies my family would be exposed to.

    Baptising my daughter.

    Singing “I am achild of God” every Monday night because it’s the olnly one my 2YO understands.

    The excitement and confusion of a first endowment session.

    The sadness and gratitude felt when a ward you are leaving sings “God be with You till we meet again” on your last Sunday.

    The love and welcome felt in a new branch.

  13. Steve Evans says:

    Lime jello.
    Temple ordinances.
    The Book of Mormon.
    Putting things on the intellectual shelf.
    The joys and pains of a lay clergy.

  14. Antonio Parr says:

    - The Washington D.C. Temple glowing white and holy against a dark Autumn sky;
    - The challenge each week during Sacrament to remember Christ, always;
    - Watching my children step towards me in the baptismal font, as I prepare to utter ancient words given by Christ Himself;
    - Standing in a circle and blessing my infant children with the deepest desires of my heart and soul;
    - Laying my hands on the heads of others and seeking to bless them;
    - The conviction that my life’s purpose is to grow in wisdom and love;
    - The belief that service is our highest calling, and that by losing ourselves for the good of others we, in fact, discover our truest selves;
    - The opportunity to serve;
    - Lowell Bennion, David O. Mckay, David Yarn and Spencer Kimball;
    - The challenge to pray always;
    - The call for moral purity;
    - “Holiness to the Lord” etched on each Temple entrance . . .

    The Church also has complicated meanings for me: A past that is not half as simple as portrayed; a culture that has many appealing aspects, but also has limitations that result in some feeling unwelcome. However, the spirit that accompanied this most recent session of Conference seems (to me, at least)to render these complicated aspects much less significant than the Church’s enormous potential for good . . .

  15. I like the feeling that no matter where I am in the world, a fellow Mormon creates so much common ground between folks who would otherwise be strangers that it’s like there’s been a friendship there all along.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    I like our marvelous, colorful history–even the negative stuff like Mountain Meadows is quite fascinating.

    I like that I come from pioneer stock (and the solid values that are engrained in my DNA), and I like that I can shock people by telling them I am descended from polygamists.

    I like Joseph’s rejection of creeds and classical theism and his radical theological flights of fancy. Mormonism is a deep theological well for a person with intellectual interests.

    I take pride in Joseph’s and Mormonism’s phil-Semitism.

    I love that I can go anywhere in the world and have an immediate support system and almost immediate friends with deeply held and shared values.

    I like that, as much as I may resist it at the time, I am persistently goaded into performing acts of service that I would never undertake apart from my activity in the church. (Tomorrow night I will tend the nursery while our RS holds its enrichment–how many hot shot big city lawyers would ever do such a thing?)

    I love that church gives me an opportunity to sing. My testimony is actually mediated more through music than scripture or anything else, so this is important to me.

    I’m glad that I’ve never smoked and don’t drink or do drugs.

    I appreciate the training in public speaking and teaching I received in the church.

    My mission gave me greatly increased diligence and focus in my studies, so that when I went back to college my grades skyrocketed from what they had been my partying freshman year. In many ways I could not have foreseen at the time, my mission made me.

    What I love most about the church are the people and the sense of community wherever I may be.

  17. Chad S. says:

    Relationships:

    With God through inspiration and ordinances

    With Jesus through scriptures

    With family and friends with eternity in mind

    With countless others through service

  18. Home teaching

  19. It means knowledge. Knowledge that my brother and sister who have died are not gone. Knowledge that acting on faith brings blessings. Knowledge that God’s will is good, acceptable–perfect. Knowledge that my family can be together forever. Knowledge that God answers prayers. That the Spirit will guide me. That giving of one’s self is the best way to receive. That I am capable of doing things I never imagined. That God loves us individually and is very active in our lives.

    It means redemption.

  20. john scherer says:

    Kim #18,

    Spoken like a good Elder’s Quorum President.

  21. What my membership in the Church means to me.

    It means family to me. It is something that is in me that I can’t just up and leave. I can’t deny that it’s the place for me, which is really annoying at the times I can’t stand to be there.

    It points out to me with annoying clarity my weaknesses, shortcomings and failures. IT offers me redemption that I manage to use to anaesthetize the pain with most of the time. Occasionally, I am able to suck it up and actually resolve a painful thing through that redemptive atonement the Church teaches me about, and that’s a good thing.

    It draws me into situations where I can rub shoulders with people I would not meet and certainly would not socialize with otherwise. Some of these people are true siblings of the heart that I love and who love me and we enjoy our time together and can validate each others. Some of these are actual siblings of the heart that have the social and spiritual equivalence to the sibling that steals your favorite toy and breaks it, or to the sibling that is always perfect and rubs your nose in your imperfection. I love all Mormons and acknowledge them as my family. If there was nothing to this Church than the association with Mormons, I would have left a long time ago — nobody can annoy me faster or more than a group of Mormons.

    It teaches me a never-ending string of stories about God that is always changing, always adapting, always has more layers to taunt me with. Understanding God is chasing the Will-o-whisp, or touching the horizon — something I occasionally think is possible, and then I laugh at myself for being stupid.

    It means watching people kindle their tiny little fires of testimony, and watching that flame grow and, all to often, blow out. It means caring about people who don’t care back sometimes. It means having to doubt stories of conversion because I’ve heard it so many times and then seen it go so very wrong far too often.

    It means learning that there is always another level for everybody. There is always another thing around the corner that can blow you away if you don’t prepare yourself for it.

    There are few things in my life more painful than my membership in the Church, and those things would be matters dealing with my family and with God directly. There are few things in my life that mean more to me than my membership in the Church, and those things would also be matters dealing with my family and God. I can no longer accept a nuance-free approach or understanding of the Church — I can’t follow God while supporting a lie.

    Thus, I make people uncomfortable by default. You might have noticed that.

  22. The church has meant direction to me. My parents didn’t provide that.

    Also, I have context, I lived before I was born, there is more than this life.

    My friends in my ward have mourned with me and you guys, they put up with me. Can’t say enough about that.

  23. 22 — Thanks for adding to the thread. I thought I broke it.

  24. :) I don’t think they can be broken. Bent a little…

  25. I’m good at bending threads, alright. This one looks bent to the point that it’s done. Too bad. It was a topic that had room for lots of meaningful responses from lots of posters with lots of different experiences.

  26. I love this thread! I am sorry I missed it when it was current. The church means many things to me.

    The constant companionship of a living God.
    Knowing who I am, my eternal, glorious true nature.
    The contrast of that with what I was taught all my life growing up, that I was ugly, stupid, unloveable, lame, and hopeless.
    Knowing that I *can* change, that there is nothing good I can’t achieve if I want it, with the help of a loving Father.
    Having a Father.
    Knowledge and connection with my earthly father, despite his death. The rest of my nonmember family think of him with pain, and avoid the thought of him. To me he is a comfort and joy, is often in my dreams and waking thoughts, and all our differences are healed.
    The knowledge that I’m growing, changing, achieving, day by day, and the good feeling that comes from that.
    The blessings I’ve received, from baptism, confirmation, and priesthood blessings.
    The understanding of life, other people, and happiness that I’ve gained.
    The holy responsibilities that I’ve undertaken, to make the world a better place, and to bless those around me.
    An understanding of the meaning of existence. Wisdom.
    Though I have so far to go, the knowledge that I will continue to progress eternally.
    Looking forward with a perfect brightness of hope.
    The constant companionship of a living God.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Oh, and before it comes up: I do not believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be a cult, but like all religions, we can be prone to excessive devotion. I am very happy to be a member of our rich and edifying spiritual community. I also believe anti-depressants to be the work of the devil….Wait! [...]

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