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Feeling the Spirit in Meetings

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Previously, I'd heard speakers in Gen. Conf. say that we shouldn't be too concerned about the public speaking talent of the speakers at sacrament meeting, or the teaching ability of teachers in Sunday School.  It is up to us to bring our own portion of the Spirit to the meetings and seek out the Lord.

 

Ok.  I see that point.  Though I think that's kinda tough sometimes.

 

At my stake conference, the area seventy said the primary concern that the apostles have is that we need to make all our meetings at church and at home more spiritual. 

 

This coupled with all the talks and discussion that ensued seemed to indicate that there is a widespread problem with people simply not feeling the Spirit anymore. (My interpretation).

 

*************************

Traveler asked if  "evil is increasing in the world".  

Vort posed the question "by what criteria?"

 

I really appreciated that discussion.

 

Traveler's final response (post #43 on that thread) gave some valuable insight.  And for the most part, I agreed with him.  But it was deemed impossible to measure.

 

I'd submit that if the apostles are concerned that the saints are having the Spirit withdraw from them in a widespread manner, then this is a good criterion to measure if evil is increasing in the world.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by Guest

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Guest

It seems a little like you're equating "more spiritual" with "more professional" or "higher quality". I think with effort, and with an absence of pride, we can take something from even the most awkward, ill-delivered talk. I think anyone trying to speak truth or share their testimony, however un-eloquently (irony. heh) invites the Spirit. 

 

"More spiritual" looks like this in my ward: 

 

Speakers haven't changed. Topics might have.

There are fewer announcements over the pulpit, more in the printed program.

The program is announced all at once after the passing of the sacrament, allowing the meeting (and the Spirit) to continue on without further interruption.

Auxiliaries take turns singing a few hymns for prelude. 

We are frequently reminded that the chapel is not a social hall, but a place to prepare for the Sacrament. 

 

At home, I see a lot of FHE's on Facebook that seem to be an ice cream outing, or playing games, or watching a movie together. Fun is a necessary component of family togetherness, but I have a feeling that many of our family "meetings" are all about the fun and not so much about teaching true doctrine. "More spiritual" would mean that prayerfully-prepared lessons are as regular a part of family meetings as treats afterward. 

 

As you can probably tell, I'm really bothered by the notion and expectation that those who are more "well-read" or "educated" or "intelligent" are above what our regular meetings have to offer. It's something I see more and more and I think it's dangerous ground to navigate. Even here, I have seen people who are honest-to-goodness inactive that claim they only don't go to meetings because it's more of the same and they never get anything out of it, and they get more by staying home and studying themselves. First, that's not what we have covenanted to do, and second, that's pretty arrogant. 

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It seems a little like you're equating "more spiritual" with "more professional" or "higher quality". I think with effort, and with an absence of pride, we can take something from even the most awkward, ill-delivered talk. I think anyone trying to speak truth or share their testimony, however un-eloquently (irony. heh) invites the Spirit. 

...

I'm really bothered by the notion and expectation that those who are more "well-read" or "educated" or "intelligent" are above what our regular meetings have to offer.

 

 

That's a good point.  I didn't intend that to be the message.  But it was definitely subtext.  You're absolutely right.  I've certainly heard wonderfully spiritual testimonies and lessons from those who are less articulate.  And I certainly don't want to discount those.

 

Auxiliaries take turns singing a few hymns for prelude. 

 

That's a fantastic idea.  I've only seen that once.  I thought it was a special occasion or something.  But why would we NOT want to do that?  And even have Priesthood and Relief Society do the same thing?  It would get everyone involved and make them realize "this is a thing."

 

 

 

We are frequently reminded that the chapel is not a social hall, but a place to prepare for the Sacrament. 

 

I know, right?

 

 

 

a lot of FHE's that seem to be an ice cream outing, or playing games, or watching a movie together...
"More spiritual" would mean that prayerfully-prepared lessons are as regular a part of family meetings as treats afterward. 

 

But that's so HAARRDD.  I absolutely agree with you.

 

 

 

 

I have seen people who are honest-to-goodness inactive that claim they only don't go to meetings because it's more of the same and they never get anything out of it, and they get more by staying home and studying themselves. First, that's not what we have covenanted to do, and second, that's pretty arrogant. 

 

To be honest, I've felt the same thing, thought the same thing.  But I just haven't DONE the same thing.  No, I don't find it arrogant.  I just have to focus on the fact that I'm there to feel the Spirit and renew my covenants, not necessarily to increase my doctrinal knowledge.  Then I have to remember the first part of the OP that feeling the Spirit is primarily my responsibility.

 

ALSO:  I was considering that maybe the Spirit isn't withdrawing from the Saints in a widespread manner... YET.  Perhaps this is prophetic counsel to preempt what may be a widespread spiritual attack and we need to get as much in our lamps as possible to save the wheat from becoming tares.

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Speaking only to the narrow issue of sacrament meeting talks: Hugh Nibley claims that the ancient Saints in the meridian of time valued testimony that completely avoided the plague of rhetoric. The more plain-spoken and uneloquent the testimony, the better. The honest and naive confession of faith and experience allows the Spirit to bear testimony in a way not often found when using flowery language designed to tickle the ear and tug the heartstrings.

 

I don't know how accurate Nibley's picture is, but it rings true to me in many ways. I aim for precision in my self-expression, but more important than precision is sincerity and lack of pretense. If we have the Spirit with us, I believe that any unpretentious and sincere sacrament talk, even one containing errors of fact or doctrine, will provide spiritual nourishment. When investigators come to our meetings, it is usually the feel or spirit that they sense, and not the doctrinal content that they hear, that touches their hearts and makes them want to know more. Doctrinal content is important and can be learned in many ways, but it is the Spirit that nourishes and helps us grow.

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Sometimes I think people do not really know what the influence of the spirit is or does to a person.

 

Sometimes it seems to me the spirit has a very ironic sense of humor - as per my post in the gift of tongues thread.  I have also discovered and experienced for my self and from others that have given a talk - or something else and felt they failed and fumbled through their talk, calling or even their entire full time mission calling - to find out later that they deeply touched someone through the spirit and made a profound difference.

 

Often I hear someone complain about church meetings - saying things like that they could worship G-d better on a wilderness mountain top or forest than in a stuffy church meeting.  Sometimes I believe that the influence of the spirit is not about individuals worshiping G-d.  Sometimes the spirit is about others and making personal sacrifices.  For this reason I believe G-d commands us to meet often - not to individually feel the spirit and worship G-d all by our selves.  I believe that mothers alone with 7 fussy children - while their husband sits on the stand because they have a calling in the bishopric - may wonder how church is spiritual -- may not realize til their children are grown how profound the spirit was during those frustrating times at church.

 

In short I believe expressions of the spirit are best realized when we are obedient (sacrificing self and personal feelings and comforts) to worship G-d because we love him and those that have joined with us in worship.  If you are not feeling an increase of love of others - especially those others at church - you are not feeling the spirit - at least you are not feeling the spirit of G-d.

Edited by Traveler

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Guest

Traveler,

 

Thank you.  That was just right.

 

 

Vort,

 

I'm reminded of the one and only time that I met Nibley.  He was teaching a religion class that my friend attended.  I was just visiting.  I had heard of just how much this guy knows.  And I was very impressed by the perspectives and information he provided on the topics covered that day.  

 

But he was not a flowery speaker at all.  He used none of the common rhetorical devices employed by great speakers.  He didn't even use an erudite vocabulary.  He was a very plain spoken man who used simple words to make simple points that spoke volumes about otherwise complex topics.  He only used words of the learned when that was really the only way to say it.  And that made his comments strike true even more.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

At home, I see a lot of FHE's on Facebook that seem to be an ice cream outing, or playing games, or watching a movie together. Fun is a necessary component of family togetherness, but I have a feeling that many of our family "meetings" are all about the fun and not so much about teaching true doctrine. "More spiritual" would mean that prayerfully-prepared lessons are as regular a part of family meetings as treats afterward. 

 

As you can probably tell, I'm really bothered by the notion and expectation that those who are more "well-read" or "educated" or "intelligent" are above what our regular meetings have to offer. It's something I see more and more and I think it's dangerous ground to navigate. Even here, I have seen people who are honest-to-goodness inactive that claim they only don't go to meetings because it's more of the same and they never get anything out of it, and they get more by staying home and studying themselves. First, that's not what we have covenanted to do, and second, that's pretty arrogant. 

 

About FHE, I understand your point, and agree with you....also admit I have been guilty of that.  :)  But I also think that FB is not a good indicator of what goes on in FHE.  I mean I wouldn't post, "Tonight we had a great lesson about the Word of Wisdom."  Unless one of my kids said something funny.  I might say, "We watched a great movie tonight" the point being to share a movie others might enjoy.  

 

I totally agree with your other point.  I've had some very tender spiritual experiences in Primary--mostly because of the music--but that isn't the only reason.  That song, Gethsemane, touches me whenever I hear it.  I've also been touched in learned new things in Gospel Essentials Class, but I happened to be teaching then, LOL!  The point is though it was a "basic lesson" about "basic doctrines" and yet I could still learn new things, and the Spirit was with us.

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I think that we are likely to either see an increase in attacks on society in general from the adversary, and/or we will see something that is directed specifically at the saints. I don't know which, nor will I claim that these are the only two possibilities, but they seem to be the most likely from my limited perspective.

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