I’ve told the story before of how about 20 years ago in the same building I attend church in today (but in a ward that was later dissolved and no longer exists) I settled in for the Easter Sunday sacrament service only to be presented with a program devoted to the concept of tithing. D’oh! That was by far the worst LDS Easter service fail I have ever personally experienced. But even when planners happen to remember the day, there remains a spectrum as to how effective our services are in focusing appropriately on the Easter theme. So I would like to take a survey as to how your Easter services went today.
(Of course, LDS services are simply not going to be able to compete with other Christian services on this day. The constraints of the typical sacrament meeting format pretty much assure that. But there remains a spectrum of attention and focus on the risen Lord in our meetings this day, and the breadth of that spectrum is what I’m interested in exploring.)
So tell us about your Easter sacrament meeting today. What worked well, what less so. And do we have any wards this year that completely whiffed on Easter as the topic for the day? I’ll go first.
Thankfully, no one forgot that today is actually Easter, so that low bar was exceeded. The opening hymn was All Creatures of Our God and King and the closing hymn was How Great Thou Art (this last one was not one of the dozen specifically Easter hymns in the green hymnal, but close enough.)
The first talk was given by a young teenage Latina; I think it may have been her first talk ever. She was very nervous, but she did a great job. Her topic was Christ’s mortal life. My ears perked up when at one point she characterized Christ as a kind of superhero. Her concluding words were “Christ lived and he loved us.”
The second talk was given by an adult sister, and she also did a good job. Part way into it I realized this was one of those talks where the assignment was given in the form of a prior conference talk (in this case, Elder Packer’s “Witness” from the April 2014 conference). Thankfully, she handled it the way I personally believe such assignments should be handled, in that she mentioned the prior talk and gave a quote from his testimony, but otherwise brought her own thoughts and experiences to bear on the topic. She talked some about her experience growing up going to 12 years of Catholic school. We think of the risen Christ as magnificent, but he can be magnificent in our lives daily. She talked about when she was nine and her seven-year old brother died, and how that led to a loss of hope and a sense of emptiness for her as a child, but how over time she regained her faith and became assured that she would see him again. When she closed she mentioned that in a couple of weeks she was going to see Jesus Christ Superstar, and thought Wouldn’t it be great if we really thought of him that way? He can be a living superstar in our lives.
A Primary choir then performed Gethsemane.
The bishop was the final speaker. Usually bishops only tap themselves to speak on special or important occasions, so I appreciated that he was acknowledging the importance of this Easter service. The talk itself was sort of a pastiche taken from Elder Holland, Kevin Worthen, Elder Gong, and then some personal experiences he and his wife had with a recalcitrant ’77 Mustang. (When he quoted Elder Holland as saying “come as you are” I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was the only one who heard it as an allusion to Nirvana…) He finished by quoting a portion of The Living Christ.
All in all, by our Mormon lay and low church standards, it was a good Easter service.
Tell us about yours.
 This was kind of a riff on the earlier superhero comment, and I found it charming, because I well remember all the Mormon push back against the musical when it first came out.