Tales of Sacrament Meeting

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.


  1. I generally haven’t seen the same problems that others have seen in sacrament meetings (although, I have lived all over the country).

    However, my favorite “uh, what was that” comes from the VERY first Sunday my wife and I attended Church in Texas (DFW area), about 12 years ago. We had just moved from BYU to Texas for an internship — one whole year — and had picked a place to live sight unseen. The ward seemed nice, though — the local stake president lived there, as did the mission president for that mission.

    The youth speaker got up and gave a talk on going on a mission, and spent half of his time talking about football. Remember, this was Texas, and we had almost no idea what to expect in this new and strange area. I remember whispering to my wife — This is nuts! They’re talking about football! The thing that drove me most nuts, though, was how he kept talking about how Steve Young was a great missionary for the Church (this was 1994, the Niners were actually good then). I wonder if he realized that Steve Young NEVER SERVED A MISSION (opting to play football instead).

    But hey, let’s not interrupt an opportunity for Steve Young/Niners genuflection instead of notice the “problem”. [And in this ward in Texas, half of the ward were both BYU fans — and thus obligated to support Young and the Niners — and Cowboys fans. Led to a lot of those “I hope they both play well” discussions.]

    Ah, Texas.

    I will say this — in general, Church in Texas was about 1000% more spiritual and enlightening than any Church I ever attended in SLC.

  2. I remember the MegaMemory talk! I remember thinking it was strange, but I don’t remember wanting to laugh hysterically–probably due to how severely depressed I was that day.

    Ziff, I like the rewritten lyrics to “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel.” I got a good chuckle out of them. Thanks for sharing, Lynnette.

  3. Two favorites:

    Recently a member of the bishopric talked about how important it was to keep the youth interested in the church. Okay so far. But then he went on to say that, since the budget for the ward, and thus the budget for youth programs, is based on sac. mtg. head counts taken in March, June, September, and December, we should all avoid traveling or otherwise missing church in those months.

    Once in a stake meeting in our home ward in southern Utah, a high councilman was talking about avoiding temptation. He crafted an assinine example: say, he says, you look out the window, and there’s a streaker runnin’ down the street buck nekked, and you keep on starin’ at him or her, you’re puttin’ yourself in the path of temptation. However, if you look away immediately and try to banish the thought from your mind, the Lord’ll look upon you and say “You was a victim.” I was holding in the laughter pretty well until my sister leaned over and said, in a faux-dixie drawl, “However, ah bet the Lord would conjugated his verb correctly.”


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