Meetings and Covenants of Consecration

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we meet together in what are called wards (local congregations) every week on Sunday. We attend Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School (called Nursery and Primary for the kids 1.5 to 3 and 3 to 12, respectively), and Priesthood, Relief Society or Young Women’s meetings. In all we have 3 hours of church each Sunday. In the meetings we partake of the Sacrament (bread and water), listen to talks given by members of the congregation (or occasionally, the local church leadership), sing songs, and pray and worship together. During the rest of church we attend classes and are taught (or teach). Some leaders in the ward attend meetings before and/or after church to coordinate efforts and discuss the needs of LDS Church members in the area. There are other meetings held regularly too.

Twice a year our normal Sunday meetings are canceled as we listen to and watch General Conference, an event that occurs on the first Saturday and Sunday in April and in October. Men and boys 12 years old and older have five sessions of Conference to attend, each session is 2 hours long and is broadcast from Salt Lake City. Women in the Church who are 18 years and older attend a Relief Society (women’s) broadcast the last Saturday in September each year. Young Women (12-18) attend a broadcast the last Saturday in March each year.

Additionally, twice per year in lieu of regular church meetings, we attend Stake Conference. Stakes are the superordinate group of wards in an area. There are typically 6-10 wards in a Stake. Stake Conference is conducted by the Stake President – a man called to watch over and organize the efforts of the wards in the stake. For Stake Conference there is usually an adult session (for 18+) on Saturday night and a general session (for all ages) on Sunday. Also on Saturday there is usually a Priesthood Leadership meeting for those men who are called into leadership positions within the wards and stake. Each of these meetings last 2 hours. Stake General Priesthood Meetings are also held twice per year (often on a Saturday or Sunday night) as are various meetings for the Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, and Primary.

The Young Men and Women (ages 12-18) have weekly night time meetings (to work on Scouting or service or education or just to have fun). I could go on but one thing we usually are in the LDS Church is busy. Much of this busy-ness comes because we do not have a paid clergy – all the local administration and ministration in the Church is done on a volunteer basis (technically we are called by the Lord {through church leaders} to serve in various capacities within the church. If we accept these callings – most do – then we fulfill that job in the ward or stake (or broader church) until we are ‘released’ from the calling or until we move to a different geographic location). For example, I currently serve as the 1st Councilor in the Young Men’s Presidency in our ward; this means that I directly with the 14 and 15 year old young men in the ward (and indirectly with all those 12-18). I teach them every Sunday as well as attend meetings on Wednesday nights (and others as scheduled). I also play the organ in church – in Sacrament Meeting – as well as sing in the ward choir (although I’ve not been consistent in singing in the choir in the past few years).

Yesterday (Saturday) I was sitting in the Priesthood Leadership session of Stake Conference (held from 3-5 PM). Our Stake President asked the question of all in attendance: “Why are you here on this Saturday afternoon?” We could have been home with our families, we could have been working on our house, paining a picture, napping, playing, reading, working, or whatever else we might do. Some in attendance gave various answers as to why they were there: duty, responsibility, knowledge, and so forth. My thought on the matter was similar to the duty answer.

I thought that I was there because I had made a covenant of consecration to the Lord, to the building up of His Kingdom. I’ve covenanted that I will consecrate my time and everything else I can to serve Him. This means that if there is a meeting on a Saturday afternoon, I will be there. Now, there might be circumstances when I cannot be there – that is understandable – but it is important to be true to the covenants we make.

Our Stake President then brought up the reason he hoped we were there – because of love: love for God, love of the gospel, and love of those for whom we hold responsibility. Our service and sacrifices are a way to show and grow our love. A William James quote came to mind: “Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.” If we want to love others more, we should act like we love them and eventually we will love them. If we want to love others we need to serve them and sacrifice for them. Jesus loves us more than any other person who lived on the earth and He provided the greatest act of selflessness and sacrifice and love ever performed. He atoned for our sins and sorrows because He loves us. It is this love of Christ’s that we should seek. This charity is Christ’s pure love; it should be our motivation for all we do in His service. If it isn’t then by our righteous actions of service we can gain this love. We gain if by faith, sacrifice, righteousness, and prayer. Charity is a gift from God.

We can keep very busy within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are meetings and more meetings; there are programs upon programs but what is most important is not the programs but rather the people. The organization of the Church has been established by God to provide the means of bringing His children back to His presence. We covenant to serve God and to consecrate our whole lives unto Him. We show this consecration and love by our actions towards and for others.

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