We all breathed a sigh of relief as we turned onto the highway; we were down to the last sixteen miles of our six-hour journey. It doesn’t sound like much, but six hours of driving had worn us out. [This was no ordinary drive on straight, you-can-drive-75-miles-an-hour freeways. After navigating through the winding, treacherous roads in the majestic Colorado mountains (with children who had never been in a car long enough to cross our state border), we were ready to be done.]
At sunset, we arrived at the place we called home for a week of vacation. I have to admit that the thought of getting up early to drive another hour and a half to get to church was hardly stomachable. But on Sunday morning, we dutifully readied ourselves (packing a cooler since the round-trip drive would be as long as the meetings) and headed off to worship with people we had never met.
Should I even say that we made it earlier than we usually do for our meetings that are less than five minutes away? (Go figure.) Seriously, though, that was the first evidence of blessings from heaven, because we left later than we should have (and there was that camper that was going so slow…). We considered it a little miracle that we were there for the sacrament. The other specific blessing was that the topic in the third hour of our meetings (a combined Relief Society/Priesthood lesson, not uncommon on fifth Sundays) was on a topic my father-in-law was pondering for his new church responsibility (calling).
But we didn’t need specific tender mercies to know that being at church was simply the right place to be. My mother-in-law leaned over to me in Sunday School and whispered that she had been tempted not to come. I confessed that I had felt the same way. We looked at each other and both shuddered to think of what we would have missed.
We felt the Lord’s Spirit strongly as these good, kind, welcoming people shared their thoughts about spiritual and temporal preparedness (the combined lesson topic), read quotes from our beloved leaders, bore their testimonies about various gospel principles, and inspired us to be better people. I felt a love and kinship with these strangers. But they weren’t strangers. They were my brothers and sisters, and I felt that strongly as we worshiped together. I left the meetinghouse spiritually filled–and so very, very grateful.
As I wrote that evening in my journal about this experience, I was reminded of a scripture I have always loved:
And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
This experience was a reminder to me that it’s worth a little sacrifice (which I know many people make every Sunday) to attend our meetings. I’m sure we could have had a lovely day together as a family doing Sundayish things. But it would not have been the same. I was reminded of why we are commanded to meet each week. There is a power and Spirit associated with meeting together, renewing (and keeping) covenants, and nourishing each other with the “good word of God.” I am grateful to my brothers and sisters in Montrose, Colorado who nourished me and my family. Our vacation would not have been the same without the blessing of gathering with them to worship.
Read more about Mormon Sunday worship:
Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy
What to Expect at a Mormon Church Service (from this post)
Inside a Mormon Chapel (photos)
My family doesn’t like to attend in strange places either. I remember the awkwardness of it when I was young, that was especially hard.
But now I agree with this post, it is renewing to attend church in a different place. Because you don’t know people, you don’t measure and wiegh their words by what you know about their life and your past interactions. You are just filled with the spirit as you listen to words of truth.