Church members seated in a Latter-day Saint chapel listen to a speaker.|
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Church members seated in a Latter-day Saint chapel listen to a speaker.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
During a recent visit to New Jersey, my wife and I watched our 12-year-old grandson Carter first prepare and then give a five-minute talk in his ward’s sacrament meeting.
Starting several days before Sunday, he carefully outlined his message according to the topic given him. He included scriptural passages and quotes from several general authorities and general officers given in recent general conferences, as well as offering his own thoughts and perspectives. He reviewed it with his grandmother for her suggestions and practiced it with us for timing and presentation.
In the Sunday morning meeting, Carter delivered his message with confidence and without a hitch. His paternal grandfather, who lives next door to Carter’s family, said one of the blessings he had noticed from home sacrament meetings held during the COVID-19 pandemic was seeing how Carter and other youth in the ward had developed an ease in giving talks after frequently preparing and presenting messages in the at-home settings.
A subsequent speaker in the same sacrament meeting — the wife of the ward’s bishop, addressing a different topic — started her message by acknowledging she was going to use a couple of the same quotes from a certain Church leader that Carter had cited in his message.
I smiled, thinking that at least one person in that meeting needed to hear the words and message of those quotes, given they were being repeated by two different speakers.
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I then thought of the many ways God speaks to His children — through promptings, impressions and confirmations from the Holy Ghost; through the scriptures; through the spoken and written teachings of prophets, apostles and general Church leaders; through the encouragement of local leaders and teachers; and through the words of family, friends and ministering brothers and sisters.
And, certainly, the Lord speaks to us through the messages, testimonies and discussions presented in our Sunday meetings.
I reflected on the many times I have presided at sacrament meetings — as stake president, bishop of both home and young single adult wards and branch president at the Provo Missionary Training Center. In the few minutes before the start of Sunday sacrament meetings and while pondering and listening to prelude music, I would ask myself, “If someone invited to speak today isn’t able to participate or if substantial time remains in the meeting after all speakers have concluded, what brief message might I be ready to share?”
In those times, I’ve thought of a topic, a principle, a scripture, an invitation — sometimes writing a note or two as a reminder or repeating it in my mind to commit it to memory.
While seldom needing to share any of those premeeting thoughts from the pulpit, I regularly have listened to a speaker share the same topic or principle that had come to my mind before the meeting. Not only that, but there have been times when the speaker recited the same scripture I had been thinking of or the same anecdote or story from Church history or Church leaders.
To me, that has always been a confirmation that someone in that meeting — for whatever reason — was needing to hear that principle, that scripture, that anecdote, that message on that day and at that time.
God also speaks to us as we prepare our messages, lessons and discussions for Sunday worship meetings. How many times have you heard a speaker, teacher or discussion leader say, “I think I’ve learned more in preparing this material than you might get from it,” or “This assigned topic is something I personally have needed.”
In Doctrine and Covenants 43:8, the Lord said “that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know … how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.”
Back to the recent New Jersey ward sacrament meeting: I smiled as I listened to the bishop’s wife repeat several of the quotes that Carter had used earlier in his talk, again thinking that someone really needed to hear those specific messages.
But very soon, she was sharing quotes, thoughts and personal perspectives on something different — something that I had been pondering earlier that morning before coming to the meeting. Something that had been unsettling in my mind. Something that I needed to understand better, to correct and to improve.
Listening to her words in that moment warmed me and moved me — to realize that God had spoken directly to me that day through the message of a fellow Latter-day Saint shared in sacrament meeting.
And to remember it can be a weekly experience in our Sunday meetings.
— Scott Taylor is the managing editor of the Church News.