For those of you reading this who may not be familiar with LDS meetings, today was what we call “Fast and Testimony Meeting.” On the first Sunday of each month (called “Fast Sunday”) members of the faith abstain from food and water (a.k.a fast) for 24 hrs. and give the money they would have used in those meals to the needy.
Today happened to be Fast Sunday. One thing unique about Fast Sunday is that members of the faith have an opportunity to stand up before the congregation and share their “testimony,” or witness of their faith. I’m not the best church historian out there so I’m not sure where this concept originated from, but I think it is there to provide the opportunity for members to learn and grow together through sharing personal experiences and sharing how the Lord works in our daily lives.
Over the years there have been some phrases that are typically repeated over and over again each fast Sunday. Again, I’m not familiar with where these phrases originated, but some key phrases one will be guaranteed to hear each Sunday are: “I know the Church is true,” “I know the Book of Mormon is true,” “Jesus is the Christ,” “I love my family, parents, etc.” Now, don’t get me wrong, these are all good phrases, but many times after hearing them over and over again it can be easy to drift off and think of other things. Plus, in my opinion, one starts to get the feeling that a person is just using these phrases sometimes as a “filler” to say something to fill the space.
Throughout the years I’ve heard members of other faiths mention how this isn’t uplifting to them. They come to church to learn and to hear a preacher educated and trained in the ways of religion. They do not want to take the time to go to church to hear other “uneducated” people talk about the same thing over and over again.
I’ll have to be honest, I was having similar thoughts today as people would get up and share their life history one after the other. I started getting a tad critical, thinking to myself “they’re not even referencing any scriptures,” or “how many times will I hear I know such and such is true,” etc. In the beginning of the meeting, the Bishop said the meeting would go as long as necessary and so people lined up one after the other. Normally the meeting lasts about an hour. Today at about an hour I noticed there was still a long line. I notice my bad attitude and said a quick prayer to help me be humbled to learn what the Lord would have me learn.
About this time a sweet little elderly lady got up and shared her experiences and her testimony. I won’t lie. It was a long testimony. However, something she said caught my attention. It was simple. She said she had 33 grandkids and went on to describe how the Lord had led her throughout her life and how grateful she was.
A thought then came to my mind: “Whatever the Lord touches, flourishes and lives…” Suddenly the meeting was interesting as I thought about this concept and reflected on scriptures of the Lord touching people and healing them. I thought of people in the scriptures who looked to Him and lived. I thought of His ministry to both the Jews and in the Book of Mormon and how people’s lives were bless simply by Him touching them.
I looked around the chapel and saw parents lovingly helping their kids and knew the Lord was pleased. I thought about the stories that were shared during that meeting and about how they were sharing these experiences because the Lord had touched their lives. I then considered how He had touched my life and how blessed I’ve been because of it. More people kept coming up and sharing experiences and I focused on the experiences they were sharing about how the Lord had touched their life and they had become more alive from it.
Almost 2 hours after the meeting began, we had said the closing prayer and were walking out of the chapel. I looked around at everyone there and felt in a small way what it is to be a part of the body of Christ. Jesus touches each one of us individually in the best way for us to learn and how open we are to learning.
Although we didn’t have an experienced and educated pastor sharing a sermon today, I feel that the Holy Spirit was able to educate me in ways I never would have considered and for that I’m grateful.