Sunday, April 14, 2013

Reverence? NOT our primary

I don’t know who suggested to the primary children to stand at the front (in Sacrament meeting) with their arms folded to set an example for those that were entering the chapel. I didn’t have a problem with it – except when Parker would try to outrun whatever other child was headed to the stand.  But as long as the children were on the stand with their arms folded, there really was a reverence there – though it seemed to vanish the minute they sat down.

A visiting high councilman had given the command to the bishopric that he didn’t want the children up there.  Maybe because he knew on a first hand account that some of those standing there ordinarily do NOT represent reverence – though the three in particular (the three most irreverent – actually there are four – which is just about half of the primary) come from very devout homes, it’s just that reverence has taken a back seat.  The more we try to enforce it, the stronger the misbehavior becomes. 

I say “we” as I am a parent of one of the instigators, though Jenna generally keeps her irreverent activities to herself. Examples: twisting her bracelet, moving her fingers, or sliding her hair band (as mentioned here) but has not misbehaved as poorly as the three boys.  Two of them brothers. And I don't mean to put down the entire primary as it is basically just those four.  But in our ward, that truly does account for just about half.

Now I don’t know that anyone from my ward even reads this post – but because of our really small primary and the descriptions I use, the children will be more easily to identify than I am.  But I will still change the names of all the children who are/were involved.

Yesterday Jenna and I attended a baptism for two of her friends – not good friends, but she has played with each of them and sometimes both together – though it hasn’t been often.  There names are Wesley and Jorge.

Wesley is an only child.  I can fully understand.  If my child had Wesley’s personality, I would not be trying for more children.  He reminds me of one who has had too much caffeine.  He climbs the walls (literally) and lands himself into all kinds of mischief.  He’s definitely not focused.  I don’t know what kind of grades he gets.  I know he goes to some kind of a therapist – or at least he used to.  He has improved a lot – or so I believed until yesterday.

Jorge and his mother are from Mongolia.  I often pick them up and give them rides to and from church.  We don’t communicate much except for, “Would you like a ride?” and “Thank you.” 

She likes to give him snacks and keeps him entertained with his iPad (or whatever it is) during sacrament – which I think is not right – but who am I to judge.  It does keep him quiet – so long as it’s just him focused on the screen.  But I remember one time both Jenna and Wesley stuck their faces just as close to the screen as Jorge’s – and I think Wesley actually took it over.

Okay.  So our ward was in charge of the stake baptism.  It is actually the first time I remember going to a stake baptism in which our ward was conducting. The program was nice.  And then came dismissal to the font.

So the first ward was dismissed and told to meet in the primary room.  Anna played the piano.  The music would have been nice if those attending would allowed themselves to just listen and to meditate – but the conversations started among the adults.  Some about the children being baptized, but most of the ones that I heard were irrelevant and surely could have waited for 45 minutes to an hour.

The next group goes.  I don’t know what room they announced to go into following the baptism – but I think they should have been allowed to return to the chapel as they accounted for more than half of everybody in the congregation.  (They would have been squished in the primary room)
Our ward was last.  We had two that were being baptized and ironically the smallest group left. 

So the primary children go towards the font and are banging on the glass (two boys in particular; Jenna was actually reverent – well as reverent as one in a dress can be while squatting down) At that point, I don’t know who was worse: Wesley or Hunter. 

Wesley should have gone through the door that leads to the font, but was too busy giving headlocks to the other boys who had come to watch.  I don’t know if it was before the baptism or after (I think it was after) that Hunter took his rolled programs (he had two of them) and started using them as drumsticks as he beat on the heads of those who sat ahead of him. And Parker started using his rolled up program as a sword.

I thought I heard some adult laughter which only encouraged the children.  I honestly did not see what Jenna was doing as the bad behavior of the two boys outshined whatever anything she has ever done.

Nick and Vickie were great.  I had no qualms with them whatsoever, especially Nick, who truly was being reverent.  Jorge’s behavior was about the same.  But I think it was right before the confirmation that Jorge’s mom came across an entire lute of treats in her bag (I wonder if it was the only thing in her bag) and called Jenna over and doused her with an arm full and so Jenna continues to pass the treats along and I look back behind me. Jenna (who had moved to the back row) and three boys are munching on these goodies (the crumb producing kind) during the program.  Are you kidding me?

But the treats did come from Jorge’s mom – one of the moms whose child had been baptized.  I don’t know how long she’s been a member of the Church or if she decided to move to the states after becoming a member or what.  She did it with love.  She had snacks for all the children. 

Hannah was in front of me with her son and didn’t want to appear rude by not taking it, but I’m guessing may have felt the same discomfort that I was feeling.  And yet there’s my husband, first counselor no less, that I don’t think would have had a problem with it (I know because he’s given Jenna messy treats in sacrament meeting!)

Actually, that “small talk” and visitation has become a popular thing between the baptism and the confirmation - especially this day as the waiting time between baptism and confirmation took longer than normal.  Jorge's mom didn't think to pack dry underwear and so someone was sent to the store to purchase a dry pair to wear for his confirmation.  

The conversations seemed to stir even louder.  I didn't want irreverant (and irrelevant) conversation at Jenna's baptism which is why I had asked Bill and Corey to sing at Jenna’s baptism found here so that the spirit would not be lost.  And it wasn’t.  At least not to my understanding. 

I had been in the dressing room with Jenna, but from what I understand, everyone in attendance listened.  They did not visit.  They did not distract from the Spirit – not even Hunter and Parker who sat on the front row.  And Parker, actually caught up in the Spirit, was trying to sing along with them.  That was awesome to watch.

I think every baptism ought to have an intermediate between the baptism and the confirmation – more than the background music on the piano (which it seems most people seem to tune out – at least in the baptisms that I’ve gone to) but something that will hold the attention of those in the audience – that the Spirit will continue to be present. Or else have the youth confirmed in sacrament meeting as it was done when I was in primary.

Our bishop said he felt the Spirit strongly.  I did too, when we were in the chapel.  I think the Spirit must have followed the bishop into the men’s dressing room and the font, for I did not feel the Spirit in the RS room AT ALL

And I realize that I’m just as much to blame for not having felt the Spirit’s presence (as it is up to me to invite Him in).  I really had tried to find the awesomeness, but the conversations around me seemed to be much louder than the Spirit (provided He was actually there) and I suppose my griping about it on this blog post isn’t going to help matters either.  Well, maybe not entirely.

 I can’t change the events of yesterday.  Perhaps one of my blog readers can change the outcome of baptism reverence to come.

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