So I was one of those people who dismissed the rumors of the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ weekly church session moving to a two-hour block. I had heard of people say they’ve heard the rumor for decades and my brother who works in the church office denied any substance to the lore. Then again, he is known for messing with people.
In the time previous to the announcement people discussed the time change. Some supported it, others thought it would be terrible. I thought about it and figured whatever, just let me know when my meetings are. The announcement was a fun bit of modern history, but even then I wasn’t particularly emotional over the change. Again, just let me know when I’m supposed to be at church.
Yet when I woke up this morning and thought over the matter, I felt the tiniest bit of sadness, given greater dimension as I read on social media those who shared the good and the bad for them regarding the change. I think I am doing no more than saying farewell to the scheduling side of a little church era. For others, they may feel more.
I see much good in this. I also admit I see where the challenges may arise for many.
What strikes me the most is the focus upon the family. I am a believer in the community of a church. To meet with our brothers and sisters in the gospel can strengthen our faith and bolster us in times of need. I think of the old story of the minister who sought out a man who had been missed in attendance: when the man explained his faith would be just fine on his own, the minister drew a coal from the fire, where it sizzled for a short time before burning out. I believe that church community can be viewed in a way as an extension of the gospel family and that we truly do need each other. But it is our immediate family that matters even more, that is the foundation of the greater community of families, and our prophet is wise to direct us back toward them.
In my years of rambling over the internet, I’ve seen people from deeply Christian families who never attend church. They even have a term for themselves, I think. They worship at home, deliver instruction on the gospel at home, pray together at home. I am happy for them and I even have a little dash of spiritual envy of what they have. If my Amish romance novels are anything to be believed, even some of the Amish do not attend church services even weekly. The weekly church is good, wonderful, arguably even necessary, but we’ve always more or less known the foundation of our gospel growth best come from the home.
Many have given thanks for the two-hour block as the three-hour block is so hard. A close friend shared this might be what it takes for her family to become more active as the three-hour block was so difficult for them for a number of reasons. I’ve never struggled too much with it, but as a teacher mom, I can’t help but be grateful for an extra hour with my family. Perhaps the day will feel more restful with the absence of an hour, or rather, the gain of that spiritual time with just my family, wherever we stick it in the week.
How long as been going to church been the easy thing to do? Putting the crutch of teaching the gospel on the local ward building as families head over there? I’m sure many families do their best and many of them do that best very well, but this thought leaves me in awe, that we are to do more in teaching our own families the gospel. What will this mean in the future? What little things have we been ignoring?
Of course I realize this will have its troubles for some. Part-member or part-active families. Families where the subject of the Church is troublesome. These families had the blessing of attending church, of having that extra help in guiding themselves or their children.
Maybe this is a hurtle that is good and necessary. I’ve been reading the book Boundaries after hearing everyone speak so much about it. I didn’t go looking for anything particular, but the thoughts in it were worthy ones and a common theme was, well, creating boundaries. Sometimes that meant hard things and sad feelings. In families that struggle with differing views of the gospel, perhaps this is the time, however awkward, to reestablish a commitment and a pattern of how the gospel is viewed in the home. Perhaps nothing in practice will change, but a heartfelt conversation can be had. Feelings and views shoved to the side for a previous pattern will be put forth. There’s a good chance that for many families this may be a perfect time to reconnect, to share things precious to each.
Which comes back down to the home. We are being reminded of a big responsibility we all have. We are changing a pattern, waking many of us up to what we need. And, yes, we are being handed the program we need, so we’re not being abandoned to the wolves. We have been reminded to be active in our communities and families, and we best take that seriously.
We must strengthen our homes. We must make room for the gospel in those homes. We must grow closer to our families and recall our responsibility to them. We must take this time to build the love we have for each other.
Yes, I think I do find the two-hour block a good thing.