The T&S thread on chapel seating got me thinking about my memories of sacrament meeting over the years. I don’t recall that my family sat consistently in one place when I was a kid, though I do remember a lot of sitting in the hard folding chairs in the cultural hall. As I recall, younger sisters could be very useful for helping the time go by. When I was an early teen, I would take one of my younger sisters for a walk during the middle of the meeting, ostensibly because she needed to stretch her legs. Another sister spent sacrament meeting drawing mazes; she reminds me of the time when she left to use the restroom and was quite unhappy when she came back to find that I’d “livened up” her maze with various comments and threats.
I spent a lot of time reading the hymn book, or counting things in it, since there wasn’t much else to read. I wasn’t the only one turning there for entertainment; my brother put his creative energies to work and re-wrote hymn lyrics. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sing “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” without thinking of his Communist version, including the refrain, “Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along / And sing only this approved Party song.”
When I was living in the Midwest several years ago and attending a branch, one Sunday we had a high council speaker who in the middle of a very random talk mentioned that he wanted to tell us about a gift we all had. I was anticipating something like faith, or the Holy Ghost, so I was a bit surprised when he went on to talk about how we could develop a photographic memory. If we would order the product MegaMemory, he explained, it would increase our memory by five hundred percent; he was going to recommend to the branch president that he purchase it for the branch. I don’t think I’ve ever struggled so hard not to burst into hysterical laughter during a sacrament meeting–which would have been very obvious, given that we met in a fairly small room. I also remember a talk in that branch on the subject of Star Wars, for which the speaker brought a lifesize Yoda as a visual aid (though unfortunately he was asked to leave it in the hall.)
My friends of other faiths often ask me about LDS worship services. I tell them that often they can be quite humdrum. But because we have little formal liturgy and different people talking every week, you really never know what might happen in them.