Scott Taylor: ‘Feasting’ upon the scriptures — with a knife, fork and spoon

The bishop spoke of walking through the meetinghouse halls prior to a Sunday interview with a ward member who wanted help with striving to be more fervent in personal prayer and more frequent in personal scripture study.

As he passed the door open to the cultural hall, the bishop noticed a group from his ward setting up for a “break the fast” light lunch for members and friends to gather after the day’s worship meetings. Seeing the prepared table, he recalled having read earlier that morning teachings from President Russell M. Nelson.

“If we ‘press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, … [we] shall have eternal life’ (2 Nephi 31:20),” said then-Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the October 2000 general conference.

“To feast means more than to taste. To feast means to savor. We savor the scriptures by studying them in a spirit of delightful discovery and faithful obedience. When we feast upon the words of Christ, they are embedded ‘in fleshy tables of the heart’ [2 Corinthians 3:3]. They become an integral part of our nature.”

The bishop told me of an idea that then came to mind — to combine an object lesson with a visual reminder. He described how he went to the table of food and collected a plastic knife, fork and spoon and a paper napkin and then found a ball of yarn in the building’s media center, cutting off a piece. He rolled up the three utensils in the napkin and tied it tightly with the yarn, slipping the makeshift bundle into his suit pocket for later.

During the interview and as part of his encouragement and commitment for consistent scripture study, the bishop asked the member to read President Nelson’s quote on feasting and share what was learned. The member talked about sampling and about banquets, finding application to one’s study of the scriptures.

The bishop then recounted how he reached into his pocket and pulled out the napkin-wrapped plastic utensils, inviting the member to place it at a desk, table, dresser or nightstand as a reminder “to feast” daily in reading and pondering the scriptures. Grinning and agreeable, the member took the utensils and committed to improve.

Later, in the day’s testimony meeting, a number of the ward members shared expressions on the power of prayer and the importance of scripture study, with the bishop hoping the testimonies helped reinforce his earlier message to the member.

One cited another quote from President Nelson: “My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions — every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.”

However — the bishop cautioned me — the story didn’t stop there.

He said the interaction with the member underscored how he himself could improve “feasting” in daily scripture study. It proved to be a reminder for the leader as well as recommitment for the member.

And the bishop told of a later interview after the day’s meetings, as the ward was concluding its light lunch and beginning to clean up. Another member came into the bishop’s office, acknowledging a lack of consistent scripture study and a commitment to set goals to improve.

Just as the member expressed a desire to once again “feast on the words of Christ,” the bishop quickly held up his hand to stop the conversation and said, “please wait.”

He stepped out of his office, walked into the cultural hall, grabbed another set of plastic utensils and napkin, cut off another length of yard in the media center and wrapped up another makeshift visual remainder with the plastic cutlery set.

The bishop returned, offering the plastic cutlery set to the member with an invitation to act.

Another packet given. Another wide smile of acceptance and gratitude.

And another call “to feast.”