I was in Sacrament meeting (the Mormon version of mass) last Sunday. I had gone to my brother’s ward (congregation) because he was blessing his son. (Sort of like a Christening but without the baptism. Or the godparents. Or the- actually, all unknown Mormon terms are described better here, so if you see something you don’t understand, try that.)
[Photo provided by Allaboutmormons]
So the blessing was over and we had sung the Sacrament hymn and the priest (16 or 17 year old boy) up front starts saying the Sacrament prayer. He says the first line and then you hear this other voice, it’s a disorganized sound, high and then unaccountably low, kind of like that of a pubescent boy, but more so.
The voice repeats the last word or two of what the priest said. Then the priest says the next line and the voice again repeats most of the syllables, some recognizable as the words we just heard, some not. And the prayer continues that way, the whole way through.
After we all said amen I looked up at the table where the Sacrament had been prepared and blessed and I see a very large, obviously mentally challenged man stand up. And next to him I see my oldest nephew, the priest who had helped him through the prayer.
And I thought I was as proud as I could be.
And then they started passing the Sacrament and I saw another nephew walking around, not passing but helping another very large, obviously mentally challenged man pass the sacrament.
And there was another man doing the same for another not as large but just as obviously mentally challenged boy.
The deacons in this ward were not the most polished I’ve seen. They were not all wearing white shirts and they were not all tucked in, but I learned more in those few minutes about loving and sharing the blessings of the gospel than I have in a long time.
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Sometimes I watch the mothers of the Deacons who pass the sacrament for the first time near their 12th birthday. They don’t notice me, because they are loving the moment, and intently watching their own son.
I love the young men in my ward too. I love that they have duties and responsibilities like passing and administering the sacrament, collecting fast offerings, and serving as Home Teaching companions. Through these responsibilities they are learning to follow Jesus and act as he would act.
Your nephews are a prime example of that.
I know these boys. And I can absolutely state that they have been blessed by their association with those mentally challenged men. We have three of them in our ward. One of those boys you blog about has been following one of those mentally-challenged men around for four years, gently helping him to fulfill his duty as a priesthood holder. To my knowledge, this young boy has not held a sacrament tray himself even once in all that time. And he has never complained – indeed, it would never occur to him to do so. It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of that great ordinance, and he is happy to do his duty, whatever that duty is.
I also credit our Bishop with finding ways for these mentally-challenged men on our ward to perform sacred duties. They do so with great enthusiasm, and are a great example to the rest of us. Our Bishop has done wonderful work making them a part of our ward.
Thanks for a great post.
That’s just really cool.
What a neat experience, thank you for sharing it. Another layer to the multitude of symbols in the sacrament.
We often have new people joining our congregation so we frequently see a newly baptized member pass the sacrament for the first time. It is so great to see men progressing in their faithfulness.
Next week the new husband of a friend of mine will pass the sacrament for the first time, it will be such a neat experience. I’m sure if I watch her there will be tears in her eyes.
Wow. Who doesn’t want their boy to grow into that kind of teenager? I know I do.
I like this story.
Those boys are awesome!
Really beautiful. Thanks.
What a beautiful example of Christlike service.