Do you like that title? It just came to me. (It’s a play on Hymn #226–GET IT?) I’ve been interested to see what comes of this new Keep the Sabbath Day (Better) campaign the church has started. The first thing I saw was this meme about how the Sabbath should look different, feel different, sound different. As much as I endorse the idea of the Sabbath being different, I’m kind of cutesy-Pinterest-memed out these days. I’m a terrible human being, but it makes me kind of nuts that all gospel teachings are instantly transformed into some attractive design you can tweet or post on Facebook. (Personally, I’d rather not read the words of God’s prophets out of context and randomly chopped into different fonts and sizes and pasted against the image of someone standing on a cliff, but different strokes, I guess.) Besides which–
I can’t tell which is supposed to be the Sabbath chair. I mean, the left looks like it might be a choir seat…or a movie theater seat…and the right looks like it might be at home in Relief Society or someone’s bingo night…it’s just not clear. I guess if you’re the bishop or the ward chorister (or, in our ward, a deacon), you probably get to sit in the comfy seat–provided you attend church in a building with a chapel (that includes comfy choir seats)–but if not, the Sunday school seat should be a refreshing change from your usual MO of sitting on your fat can eating popcorn and watching Marvel Comics blockbusters. On the other hand,
If the right side is supposed to represent the “right side,” then folding chairs:choir chairs::suit & tie:basketball jersey. I guess. No, I’m not being deliberately obtuse. I’m just messing with you. Obviously, you should always Choose the Right, which is why the bishop and the ward choir should get off their fat cans and into Sunday school (no snacks).
Then there’s this:
At first that looked like only one choice, but then I realize it’s half-electric, half-acoustic. Since we’re choosing the right, the acoustic guitar is clearly more reverent (though it’s not clear if they’re allowed in sacrament meeting or not; so long as you play it while sitting in a folding chair and wearing uncomfortable clothing, I don’t think it should be a problem).
But my personal favorite is
In theory there is nothing inherently “less reverent” about pizza, so long as you make it yourself and don’t order it from a restaurant. Maybe you don’t think slaving over a hot stove (or pizza oven) all day is in keeping with the spirit of the Sabbath, but the article on lds.org whence I got these images says that “if everyone in the family helps with meal preparation and clean-up, this tradition can promote the spirit of the Sabbath.” In our house, Brother J usually cooks dinner on weekends, and I personally like to stay the heck out of his way while he’s in the kitchen, unless he specifically asks for my help–which he sometimes does (usually if he sees that I’m reading a book), but mostly he just yells at people to get out of his way. I don’t know about the rest of you, but our kitchen isn’t big enough for all six of us (sometimes seven, when Grandma coves over) to help with meal preparation and clean-up, and our kitchen isn’t small. But this is quibbling. I was very pleased to see that they acknowledged the work and pain-in-the-neckitude that accompanies a delicious Sunday dinner, I appreciate the effort to discourage people from piling more work on Mom (or, in our case, Dad, but sometimes Mom when Dad is at a meeting or doesn’t know how to cook meatloaf).
I appreciate the effort, in general, to focus on what we should be doing on the Sabbath instead of what we shouldn’t do on the Sabbath. There’s already a Relief Society craft for this: the Sabbath “CAN.” (Because it holds a bunch of craft sticks telling you all the things you “CAN” do on the Sabbath. GET IT?) That’s super. Of course, it’s hard to talk about what you CAN do with no implication as to the things you can’t do. (You CAN go to all the bother of cooking Sunday dinner because you can’t order pizza. You CAN wear a suit and tie all day because you can’t play basketball. You CAN sit in a folding chair because you can’t go to the movies or be the bishop.) But when we had the big Sabbath Talk in our ward’s Fifth Sunday lesson last month, our bishop specifically tried to steer us away from making a list of all the stuff we shouldn’t do. This didn’t stop us from spending twenty minutes talking about how you avoid shopping or eating at restaurants on the Sabbath while you’re traveling, but at least he tried.
At our Family Home Evening last night, Brother J went over the letter we got from the Ward Council, which focused on the doctrinal reasons for keeping the Sabbath and ways to improve our sacrament meeting experience. (I was pleased to note that one of the suggestions under the latter category was “Look for ways to support and help mothers with small children on Sunday.” Yes, theoretically fathers have small children also, but the most common reasons mothers with small children need support are that their husbands travel frequently for business or are serving in callings that prevent them from active fathering during sacrament meeting, so that’s how that goes. I guess we support the fathers indirectly by keeping the mothers from resenting their husbands’ jobs and callings.) My oldest child commented, predictably, that she personally does not find the Sabbath restful; she finds it a chore. This was (certainly) not the first time she’s said so–in fact, she said it during sacrament meeting the day before, for the 247th time. And not for the first time I responded by saying, “Join the club, sister. I haven’t had a restful Sabbath since you were born!”
Which probably wouldn’t fall under the category of promoting loving family relationships, but at least I was empathizing with her (sort of).
While we were discussing our options for improving our sacrament meeting experience, my husband reminded me that in one of our old wards, they used to end sacrament meeting after an hour and do all the announcements after the closing hymn and prayer. We both thought that was a good idea (not that anyone asks us how they should conduct sacrament meetings). On the one hand, fewer people miss the announcements because they were late getting to sacrament meeting. On the other hand, more people miss the actual sacrament if they’re late getting to sacrament meeting. So it may not be worth it. Personally, I would like to see the talks cut in half and the music doubled, just because I find it easier to listen to music (such as it is) than talking. But if there is such a paucity of musical skill in one’s ward that doubling the music seems like a greater punishment than all of the talking, that obviously won’t invite the spirit. Maybe we could come up with some other appropriately reverent activity that could help fill time, but I admit I’m at a loss as to what it might be.
My husband says there’s also talk of moving all church-related meetings (besides those comprising the three-hour block) from Sunday to other days of the week, so people can spend more time at home with family. In theory this is also a great idea, except that the reason people have all their church-related meetings on Sunday is that it’s the one day of the week they have no other commitments. When my husband was choir director, he would have far preferred to have had choir practice on some weeknight, but recognized that doing so would have resulted in a choir of zero (instead of our usual robust seven). So naturally we continued to have it on Sunday, just as the three choir directors before him had done, and as our current choir director does. These days we have church at 1:00 p.m. but have to go to choir practice at 10 a.m., which I hate, but at least we don’t have it at the building, so no one expects me to show up in my Sunday best. Well, not yet, anyway. I’m still waiting to see what happens now that we’re (allegedly) raising the Sabbath bar.