Friday, April 7, 2017

Church in Pajamas--Time to Renew and Reflect

Are children better behaved, or just uncomfortable, while wearing their "Sunday best?"

 We Mormons believe in putting on our Sunday best for church. Women wear dresses or skirts. Men mostly conform to a uniform white shirt and tie. Visitors in other attire are welcome, but definitely stand out as visitors. 

The dress code can seem demanding, so can the time. We spend three hours together, first as an entire congregation, then in classes divided by age and gender. There is no professional clergy on a local level, so most of us have Sunday responsibilities to speak, teach, play the piano, or keep records. It is considered best policy for everyone to have a “calling.” Sundays are only a day of rest along the lines of “a change is as good as a rest.”

But twice a year, for many of us, church becomes very relaxed and casual.

On the first weekends of April and October, the LDS church holds General Conference. This is a time when leaders speak and we tune in at home via TV, radio, or internet. There are two, two-hour sessions on both Saturday and Sunday, plus a two-hour meeting specifically for men on Saturday night and a two-hour meeting specifically for women the previous Saturday.

This sounds like a lot of preaching, but there is always an air of holiday around conference time. It is a time for mission reunions, family reunions, and special breakfasts or picnics. 

Best of all, instead of waking up early to have everyone well-dressed in time for 9:00 AM church, the family can gather in front of the TV in pajamas at 10:00.

Church children’s magazines print bingo games and coloring books to help the youngest feel involved. I remember a picture of a podium with a hole cut above it and a page of potential speakers to hold it in front of.

As a teenager I chose special crafts projects—cross stitch or knitting, especially for the wonderful “free time” I would have while watching conference.

General Conference was not always so cozy. Early Mormons met in the largest buildings they had available. For many years that building was the Tabernacle. I attended conference live there once. It was not comfortable. Pioneer-designed benches are far from ergonomic.

Wooden benches in the Tabernacle

But I can imagine that for my pioneer ancestors, sitting for any period of time was a delightful rest in itself. 

Instead of plowing, planting, digging, pulling weeds, or hand-scrubbing laundry--all while trying to keep children from falling into fires or irrigation ditches--these faithful people were able to sit in clean clothes and think about a better world.
Comfy modern seats in the Conference Center

My ancestors also had the challenge of taking notes so they could keep and review conference teachings. Today I (and you) can find talks almost immediately on and review favorite sermons from the past fifty years.

When I was younger, I hoped to hear something new--like the starting date for the Millennium. But now what I need to hear is the same messages I hear at church on Sunday, the same messages taught to my pioneer ancestors.  Messages that were , in fact,
 taught by Jesus (and Old Testament prophets before Him.)

Speakers at General Conference did not disappoint. I heard messages of hope and reassurance of God's love. I heard the call to repentance with the promise of forgiveness and opportunity to improve. I heard the commandment to love my neighbors (i.e. everybody) and find ways to serve them.

As I said, I hear these messages in church all the time. But there is something about the change in setting and circumstance twice a year that helps me listen better.

Do you feel hopeless? Are there bad habits you need to change? Do you want to view people in a more positive way?

Sitting on the sofa in pajamas and watching Mormon leaders speak helps me reset my priorities. What helps you? Do you respond best to nature, novels.  poetry, music, TED talks?

Please share. The world is a troubled place and many of us are in need of inspiration.


I've had some rough patches of pain this week, so nothing is finished or beautifully photographed, but I have some works in progress to share.

This little shawl is mostly finished. I need to tuck in loose ends, wash it, and pin it into the right shape to dry. It has been in this condition for a week now. Luckily it is for a May birthday, so I have time. 

This is being made from three kits I'm subscribed to kind of following a pattern from another site, so I think it is enough mine to sell. Next week it should be in my shop. I'll give all the knitterly credits then as well as the information on this last work in project which I also have underway. Since I am having minor surgery to remove that lump I mentioned last week, I am being very optimistic about next week's knitting. (Maybe I'll knit better on good pain pills.)

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