"When we meet to learn the doctrines of the gospel, it should be in a spirit of reverence. The world grows increasingly noisy. This trend to more noise, more excitement, more contention, less restraint, less dignity, less formality is not coincidental nor innocent nor harmless.
"The first order issued by a commander mounting a military invasion is the jamming of the channels of communication of those he intends to conquer. Irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary by obstructing the delicate channels of revelation in both mind and spirit. Reverence invites revelation." (Elder Boyd K. Packer) (as a side note, this was written in 1991 - before widespread cellphone and gameboy useage, I think things have only gotten noisier.)
Last week we had a Primary Teacher Training and we talked about reverence. We have the most incredible Primary teachers here. This is the second training that I have been in charge of, and once again nearly every teacher came. I have worked in Primaries where we would have been thrilled if even 3 teachers came to an inservice meeting. I felt guilting asking them to give up their time, but it was great to have a chance to hear their struggles and questions and insight.
I have learned so much from them. A couple of weeks ago there was a 9 year old boy who was having a hard time staying in his seat. He really wanted to sit by his older brother, but we have learned that that is not such a good idea. Anyway, he kept scooting from chair to chair heading toward the back of the room. I had talked to him earlier and really did not want to get up and go talk to him again, because it was right in the middle of Sharing Time, and I knew that my getting up would be way more disruptive than letting him move around. Next thing you know, Sister K. got up, put her arm around the boy, and led him back to sit next to her. She gave him such a big loving smile, and he smiled right back at her. He stayed by her side the rest of the time and really responded to her. When he started to get antsy - she would smile at him, or put her arm around him, and he would smile and calm down. He reminded me of a puppy - very active and playful, and willing to do anything for a little attention - especially loving attention. It was great. And way more affective than my method.
Anyway, back to reverence. We live in a pretty small ward, but we have an enormous nursery. We have 30 nursery aged kids now, with 17 more coming into nursery before the year is up. There are less than 10 active YW in our ward, so you can see that things are a little lopsided. Two other wards meet in our building - one ward has 4 nursery children and the other has a nursery of 2. Most of our nursery children are the oldest child in their families, so we also have lots of young, first time parents. This makes our Sacrament Meeting very lively. I have never been to such a loud ward. There is always a roar in the chapel. Sometimes speakers comment about how great it is to hear the little ones, and sometimes I agree that it is nice to have the little ones there, but sometimes I think we let things get way too out of hand. I have noticed that parents bring large bags full of treats and arts and crafts (one time I saw fingerpainting in a pew near us).
I think it is overkill. I think these kids can learn how to be reverent. I think we need to show our children our respect for the chapel and our respect for them by insisting upon reverence. Nathan and I have talked about it and we are no longer bringing notebooks for the kids to color in. And no more snacks. (ok maybe cheerios for John, but not 3 big bags of fishies and pretzels and raisins) Last week one mom in a pew near us opened a loud bag of chips for her kids. I'm thinking that if your bag of potato chips is louder than the roar of the crowd, then maybe you need to rethink your snack for Sacrament Meeting.
President David O. McKay said that “reverence is profound respect mingled with love." During Primary the children are suprisingly reverent. Do you have any ideas for fostering reverence in the Chapel?