Saturday, February 26, 2005

Reverence

"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?

3 comments:

Mary said...

Reverence is a hard one when you have the entire congregation together. It seems like it would be easier because parents would be on hand to remind their kids to be quiet. I have no ideas for how to keep one's own kids quiet - we just give ours a pacifier :) But I do think a lot of it has to do with the parents attitudes and actions that the kids see.

Our ward has a lot of small children too and it is interesting to see the devices people use to keep the kids quiet. However, there is a family in our ward that is often very loud. It seems like we always end up in the row behind or in front of them, eek! The mom and aunt bring the kids and the entire time, you hear them telling their kids to "shut up" and be quiet much louder than the kids are being. On Lindsey's blessing day, we were all in Sunday school, I believe, and the aunt of that family cracked open a brand new bottle of PEPSI during the lesson! Granted, our building has something wrong with the water line and it tastes gross, but come on!

One more funny reverence story: Lindsey of course is fairly easily pacified, but sometimes I do have to stand at the back of the classroom and sway a bit to keep her quiet. One time I was holding her at the back of the room and she let out a big toot. Those close by could easily see it came from little Lindsey, but an older lady sitting ahead of us kind of turned her head and made a stink face. I had to work hard to keep from getting the giggles!

Back to the subject, though, it seems the biggest challenge is to help your kids not only be reverent, but try to listen a bit and gain something from sacrament meeting and the spirit that should be there.

Tough!

Mary said...

P.S. When we were still at BYU, we were at a HUGE regional conference in the Marriot Center and Elder Eyring was the speaker. BYU Married Wards = loads of babies. Elder Erying noted the noise of the kids echoing in the huge arena and said, "I hear the wonderful sounds of babies in the audience. Parents, reach over and give them a kiss for me." It was cute.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think that Sacrament Meeting is an hour long wrestling match, where I'm always loosing. I think our family is the one the people try to sit as far away from as possible. We take only cheerios and a sippy cup of water for the kids to share. For a few weeks Rick brought skittles with him, and would pass those out to the kids. They loved it, but Michelle would put her fingers in her mouth and get them really sticky, and drool on me. I also have a couple of board books and a car for Peter to drive back and forth. Abby likes to pack a bag of things for herself. She goes a little nuts, and I need to get her to cut back. Our kids are mostly good, but Michelle can get loud if someone touches her books, and Peter likes to lay on the floor so he can drive his car. Sometimes he has to make car noise, which can be loud.

Our main problem is that Peter likes to sit by Grammy. She sits two rows back, and on the other side of the chapel. Some Sundays Peter goes back and forth so he can get his car, a drink of water, give Michelle some of Grammy's snacks, etc. He is so quick, and walks so loud, it is really distracting to those who sit on her row. I've asked her if she would sit on the back row directly behind us, so he wouldn't have to clomp so far. But she likes to sit near the door, so she can sneak out before anyone can make her stay for Sunday School.

Abby and I made a reverence book out of a small photo holder. We cut out pictures from the Friend magazine, and then put in a few pictures of the kids. Michelle love to kiss the baby, herself. They also like to go through and point to Jesus.

I rate a Sacrament Meeting a success if our kids are moderately quiet, and we don't have to take them out screaming or crying. I've also found that when I'm reading my scriptures, even if it's noisy, I feel like I gain much more spiritually from the meeting then if my kids are quiet, and I'm not spiritually prepared.

Some friends of ours talk about being stationed in England and watching families haul in ice chests to Sacrament Meeting. They said they thought about getting a monster ice chest from the states to show them up, but then decided to cut out all snacks and toys for their family.

Heather