Sacrament meeting should always and unequivocally be about Jesus Christ.
It’s the most public facing and general meeting of the church. If someone is going to come to church at all, then they’re going to show up at a sacrament meeting.
When estranged family members come back to church to attend with a loved one, it’s going to be to a sacrament meeting.
When a part member family is going to show up for a baby blessing, it’s going to be a sacrament meeting.
When missionaries bring investigators to church for the first time… it’s going to be to a sacrament meeting.
I’ll never forget the anxiety I felt when bringing an investigator to church while serving as a missionary. We would strive with all of our hearts to speak, teach, and testify of Jesus Christ. The person would be interested and moved by the spirit to “come and see.”
And then… well… if you’ve been around long enough then you can guess what often happened.
“Why did the speaker talk about Joseph Smith the whole time?”
“Do you guys worship Jesus?”
“How come the speakers didn’t read anything from the scriptures?”
There should never be a doubt in someone’s mind whether or not we worship, revere, and rejoice in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Yes, Joseph Smith is important. Stories about a recent Elder’s quorum activity or ward Christmas party are important. And a well-researched quote from your favorite scholar about missionary work could be important.
But if all of that doesn’t quickly point directly back to Christ and his teachings, then all is lost. Everything else is just an appendage to Christ and His atonement according to Joseph Smith. So let everything else get discussed during the appendage/auxiliary meetings.
Because sacrament meeting is for us to learn of Christ.
We learn of him through the reverent reminder of His symbolic body which lays on that alter at the front of the chapel.
And we should learn of him through the testimony and teachings of those that are conducting and participating in the program.
Visitors can get the wrong idea if they visit our church, attend a sacrament meeting, and then we spend too much of our time focusing on things other than Christ and his teachings.
Between the Bible and the Book of Mormon alone, there is enough wisdom, stories, parallels, parables, and sermons to last us the meager 52 weeks (minus stake and general conferences) of the year in which we attend that all-important meeting. If we run out of things to talk about after week 48, then we can start over because there’s a good chance we’ll need to hear it again if it pertains to Christ and his teachings.
But could we ever run out of ways to explore the effects of His influence in our lives?
I love the pioneers. They did the unimaginable. Endured things I could never comprehend. But if we’re going to talk about them in Sacrament meeting, let’s not do them a disservice by leaving out the person they looked to the most during their journey.
If we’re going to tell stories about our families, talk about apostasy and restoration, temple work, the return of Elijah, praise another ward member, tell missionary stories, or talk about how much we learned from serving in a certain calling… then lets make sure that Christ is at the center of those stories. Not just thrown in as an afterthought or as a token gesture.
Some variation of the Savior’s name is used or referenced in the Book of Mormon 3,925 times for an average of every 1.7 verses. There’s not a more Christ-centric book on the planet. I think our sacrament meetings should likewise be the most Christ-centered meetings on the planet.
Prophets and apostles exist to testify of Christ. The Book of Mormon and Bible exist to testify of Christ. The Spirit exists to testify of Christ.
Sometimes we address topics such as: “profanity” or “covenants” or “the prophet” or “a recent conference talk” or “modesty” or “baptism” or “the temple” or any number of other topics.
But what if we asked things like:
“Give us some background on the parable of the good Samaritan and your experiences in life that reflect the teachings of that parable.”
“Help us understand more about what was happening during the 3-4 days leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Find the Old Testament prophecies of Christ and tell us how this experience has affected your life.”
“Tell us about the Unmerciful Servant found in Matthew 18 and then share with us how the principle of mercy has manifested itself in your life.”
Can you imagine if all of our sacrament meetings revolved around Christ and His teachings? Members and visitors would leave that meeting riveted on the Savior and ready to change their lives. I truly believe that.
I know for certain that there are many in the church who long to be edified during that meeting. They long for someone to take the time to weave the teachings and greatness of Christ into the words that they speak. And to have that happen on a consistent weekly basis.
It is Christ who has the power to move people, the power to elicit change, and the power to stir up the hearts of those who need it most. Yes, there are other people and stories that can motivate and inspire us. But in the gospel sense, those people and those stories derive their strength from Christ. And sadly, sometimes we forget to emphasize or even mention that part. The most important part.
To see Christ move throughout the scriptures and to see him illuminate the lives of the people who speak his name has always triggered something special in me and I’ve seen the same in others.
It’s a simple solution to a myriad of problems. Christ. Let’s centralize our main meeting and our main message on Him.