I took a ton of notes from the service. It is very interesting to me that the church is member lead instead of Pastor or Priest led. I suppose regardless of the church or religion there are many volunteers along the way who make it happen but in the Mormon faith it seems like the people are very involved. The children attend church with their parents instead of going off to Sunday school during the service. There is baby babble the whole time. Some would say it is very distracting but if you lead by example then children will see their parents being faithful. Children have their time in the second hour. This Sunday, two 12-year-old girls were recognized for earning their Faith in God Award and stood in front of the whole service to recite their Articles of Faith. What I see when I look at churches are patterns, structure and systems; not in a cynical way, just as a matter of course. This church is structured to raise leaders who learn to become confident speakers. I find it fascinating. A gift really.
The second half of the service was dedicated to the importance of the Temple in the lives of Mormons. A young boy spoke to the group and told a horrifying story set in the late 1800s. A young man would wake at 2:00 a.m. on Monday morning and walk six hours to the Temple in Salt Lake City where he worked as a stone cutter. On Friday night he would walk home arriving at midnight. He did this for years. At one point he was kicked by a cow and suffered multiple fractures to his leg. His family tied him to a door and removed his leg with a power saw. It hurts me just to think about it. During his recovery he carved a wooden leg and learned to walk again. This was a crude leg that caused a great deal of pain. As soon as he was “able” he started his six-hour journey to the Temple to cut stone for the church he loved so much.
The children in front of me had Temple flash cards and Mormons are encouraged to be worthy of visiting the Temple. This is a place of extreme peace. In the Temple Mormons seeks inspiration and knowledge. One of the Brothers spoke of making the Temple a destination on business trips and on vacations. He shared his experience of going to the Temple in Manhattan. He decided to walk and boy did he encounter some real world type of stuff as he made his way through Times Square. When he entered the Temple he was overcome by the serenity and peace. It sounded like an amazing experience.
Devout Catholics visit the Vatican, Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca and Mormons have the Temple. It really is a beautiful thing. I was not a church goer until last summer and after my 52 weeks I may never go to church again – who knows! But I often think as I drive by on my way to service that many of the “temples” in our lives include Target, Starbucks, the Mall and the Movie Theater. There sure are a lot of cars in those parking lots early Sunday morning. Where do you find sanctuary in a crazy, techno tethered world, that puts a priority on doing taxes and shopping over building communities of faith and finding God? There is just really so much to do and regular church attendance takes focus and discipline.
In 2013 there will be two new temples dedicated in Arizona. One will be in Gilbert, AZ and the public will be invited to take a look inside before it is dedicated. I definitely want to check that out as it will probably be the only time I will be able to see inside. Somebody invite me when the time comes!
Here is the link to the neighborhood Meeting House: http://mormon.org/meetinghouse/