Sacrament-first LDS church bloc schedules and other Mormon rituals

(To see Cal Grondahl’s cartoon that goes with this post, click here.) I avoided it for 50 years, but finally, at the too-early time of 9 a.m., my family and I headed into the ward chapel building Sacrament-first. It was a grudge-walk for me. Despite rumors that “80 percent of the church does Sacrament-first blocs,” I had never seen it before, and definitely did not want it.

Sacrament meeting for me has always been a refuge; the last meeting! After the closing hymn and prayer we can go home and observe the Sabbath in bliss that includes reading anything from Charles Bukowski to James E. Talmage with later spiritual treats that include “Downton Abbey,” “17 Miracles,’ “The Simpsons,” “Baptists at our Barbecue,” “Silent Sundays” on Turner Classic Movies and “God’s Army.” When the Sacrament meeting occasionally went overtime, I quietly seethed.

Of course, I’m old enough to recall the multiple Sunday meetings schedule in the LDS Church that were scrapped a couple of generations ago. I was young but it was early to rise for Sunday School while mom and dad mysteriously congregated in other parts of the ward building. Eventually, we all came home, ate lunch and stretched out for a while. Later in the day, as the afternoon started to wane, we headed back to the ward house for an hour-plus Sacrament meeting, the one with all ages in attendance. (Primary, by the way, took place in the middle of the week. I think it was on Wednesday.)

But even the extended “start-stop-start” Sunday schedule of the past was a break from earlier LDS members’ observance. During the 19th century, faithful Latter-day Saints observed “Fast Sunday” as “Fast Thursday.” That must have made for a lot of rumbling stomachs during the work day. Brigham Young explained “Fast Thursday” 150 or so years ago:

You know that the first Thursday in each month we hold as a fast day. How many here know the origin of this day? Before tithing was paid, the poor were supported by donations. They came to Joseph and wanted help, in Kirtland, and he said there should be a fast day, which was decided upon. It was to be held once a month, as it is now, and all that would have been eaten that day, of flour, or meat, or butter, or fruit, or anything else, was to be carried to the fast meeting and put into the hands of a person selected for the purpose of taking care of it and distributing it among the poor.” – Journal of Discourses, 12:115.

(“Fast Thursday” ended in 1896, by the way. Things were a lot different in many ways those days. The LDS garment stretched from your feet to your neck. There was even a garment collar attached for a while.)

All in all, a Sacrament-first Sunday started off better than expected. People trailed in well into the meeting, but that probably had more to do with the 9 a.m. start than the meetings’ switch. The meeting ended on time. Sunday School stayed in the middle, and the final meeting now — at least for me — is priesthood. That turned out to have a potentially silver-lining. We high priests are not known for going beyond the appointed hour. In fact, as we dismissed five minutes before the hour, I was positively in love with the new meeting bloc. I envisioned a family quickly packed into the minivan, home a few minutes later and three minutes later, myself parked on the easy chair, dressed in sweats, with a book in my hands.

It was not to be. The meeting switch presents a new challenge called “gather the family.” It takes about 10 minutes and usually involves a hunt for at least one child not nearly as obsessed as I with getting home. (Relief Society, also a final meeting in the bloc, cares way less for early dismissals than high priests. I should have realized that.)

So, my son and I stand in the cultural hall, by the exit, waiting for all the Gibson family to gather. I’m seething. He’s running in circles around the basketball court. Eventually, we’re out the ward building about 10 minutes after the appointed hour, just as if a Sacrament meeting had contained an over-exuberant speaker and gone overtime. The occasional has become the norm.


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8 Responses to Sacrament-first LDS church bloc schedules and other Mormon rituals

  1. Derek Kelly says:

    Oh, don’t be such a grump!

    • Doug Gibson says:

      Derek, my wife agrees with you. I frequently get a dose of righteous indignation for my grumpiness and haste to leave!

    • Kelly Knight says:

      Dave, who are the high priests “taken from among men [and] ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that [they] may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins” as spoken of in Hebrews 5:1?

      • Jim Hodgen says:

        The same role in the affairs of the Church of Jesus Christ through the ages as that given to (and apparently very faithfully executed by) Melchizedek, who was cited as the individual that tithes and offerings were given to…

  2. Dan says:

    Kelly, they were the Old Testament priests, descendants of Aaron, as mentioned later in the verse. It was because this priesthood was imperfect (“for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins,” Hebrews 5:2; “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?”, Hebrews 7:11 ) that it was replaced by the eternal High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The Levitical priesthood served only as a shadow and example of the coming true Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:5).

    True believers are indeed priests: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ”, I Petere 2:5 – but not to act in an intercessory role, as the Levitical priests, but rather to “offer up spiritual sacrifices.” There is now only one Intercessor, one Mediator: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” I Timothy 2:5. Note that this verse not only disannuls the argument of a continuing Levitical priesthood, it also clearly refutes Mormon polytheism (“for there is one God”), as do Isaiah 43:10: “before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me,” and 44:6: “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Either our God is a liar – “neither shall there be (any god) after me,” “I am the first, I am the last,” – or the Mormon doctrine of men becoming gods is a lie.

    • David says:

      Dan, you won’t agree of course, but then most religions don’t! states: These scriptures in Isaiah clearly are meant to assert the supremacy, authority, and superiority of Yahweh over not only over false idols but over all else, including real gods.
      The passages in Isaiah cannot be called upon to disprove LDS beliefs in separate divine beings in the Godhead or theosis. Their main point is to encourage Israel to stop worshiping other divine beings or idols but to worship Yahweh alone (see Isaiah 41:29, Isaiah 42:8, Isaiah 43:10,12,24, Isaiah 44:8,9,10,17,19, Isaiah 45:9,12,16,20,22.
      Any other use of these passages distorts Isaiah’s meaning and intent.

  3. Doug says:

    Are we not all children of GOD. We are created in his image (looks). We are created in his likeness (like him). No son can take the place of the father, but that son can someday become a father. Things are done on earth as they are done in Heaven.

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