Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Sunday in the Life of a Mormon, part three

Go here for part one.
Go here for part two.

We attend Sacrament Meeting as families.  It ends at about 2:10pm.  We then have ten minutes for transition.  During this time people might get chalk from the library or have copies made for a lesson.  Others take time to get a drink or go to the restroom.  The kids generally make a mad dash to Primary.

Sacrament Meeting is followed by Primary/Sunday School. 

Primary is for children 3-11 years old.  There is also a nursery that is part of the Primary program; children 18 months to 3 years attend nursery.  In nursery they play with toys, have a lesson, have a snack, make a craft, have singing time.  Children change classes in January, so they are in nursery until the January after they turn three.  Children 3-7 are in Junior Primary.  Children 8-11 are in Senior Primary.  In our ward there is one class for each age group (3-year olds, 4-year olds, etc.).  Primary begins with an opening song and a prayer by one of the children.  Junior Primary starts in sharing time.  This is a time when a member of the Primary presidency gives a lesson to several classes on topics that fit the theme for the year.  (This year's theme is I Know the Scriptures are True.)  The Primary music director then has about 20-30 minutes to teach and review songs.  Junior Primary then goes to class.  Each age group has their own teacher(s) and classroom.  This schedule is reversed for Senior Primary.  About 15-20 minutes before our block meetings end, Junior Primary comes back into the Primary chapel and the two groups have closing exercises together.  They recognize and welcome visitors, sing to birthday children, recognize children who were baptized that week, give announcements, and recite an Article of Faith or scripture.  Then one or two children give 2 1/2 minute talks (assigned the week before).  A child reads a scripture of his/her choice.  They end with a closing song and a closing prayer by one of the children.

After Sacrament Meeting (when the children go to Primary) the youth and adults go to Sunday School.  Sunday School for the youth is divided up every two years: 12&13-year olds, 14&15-year olds, 16&17-year olds.  The 12&13-year olds are taught about the past presidents of our church.  The older groups are taught about whatever the course of study is for that year.  (This year it's the New Testament.)  Adults are offered varying classes.  Right now we have two Gospel Doctrine classes on the New Testament (the course of study rotates each year).  People can choose which to attend.  Sometimes there are other classes offered, as the bishopric deems necessary:  Temple Preparation; Marriage and Family Relations; Family History; and Teaching, No Greater Call (a class to prepare members to teach).  Sunday School is about 50 minutes.  Each class is opened and closed with prayer.  We usually do not sing as part of Sunday School.

After another ten minute transition, the youth go to Young Men or Young Women and the adults go to their Priesthood quorum (men) or Relief Society (women).  In these settings we have lessons directed specifically to our lives and our responsibilities.  YM and YW are divided in ages like in Sunday School.  Since I work with the Young Women, I go there instead of Relief Society (on the second week the YW meet with the RS for opening exercises).  These classes are about 50 minutes as well.  They open with song and prayer.  We usually have announcements.  We then have a lesson of about 40 minutes on varying gospel subjects.  Tomorrow I am teaching a lesson about agency and responsibility.  We close our class with prayer by one of the young women.

Five minutes before 4:00pm the librarian rings a bell (like a school bell, it goes through the whole building).  This is our five-minute warning.  Then on the hour, the librarian rings the bell twice (hopefully not right in the middle of the prayer).

Then church is over.  I head toward the foyer as that's where I meet my family.  I usually chat while waiting for everyone to show up.  If someone has a meeting or needs to visit with the Bishop they usually walk home.

Once we get home we have certain rules about what we do on the Sabbath.  These are our family rules.  Every family has slightly different rules.  Sunday is family day at our house so my children aren't allowed to play with friends.  We don't watch TV on Sunday.  They are also not allowed on the internet.  In theory, they aren't supposed to use their cell phones to chat with friends either.  (This isn't followed well by my 18-year old daughter and her boyfriend.)  We really only have one family meal on Sunday, usually around 5:00pm or 6:00pm.  People are responsible for taking care of their other food needs.  Sometimes we visit grandparents on Sunday.  We play board games.  Some of us take naps.  We watch DVDs (they have to check with me first to see if I am okay with that DVD on Sunday).  They might go outside and play catch together or go for a bike ride.  Maybe they do a puzzle.  Maybe we have a family home evening lesson.  Maybe they play the piano or another instrument.  Maybe we read scriptures together.  The idea is to make Sunday a day that is different from the others.  A day that focuses on spiritual things and on family.  And sometimes that means sacrifice.

We have only given up TV on Sundays for the last year or two.  It was tough.  We are NASCAR and NFL football fans.  We miss a lot of these events by not watching TV on Sundays.  That's been hard on me probably more than anyone else.  But I feel like it's been worth it.  It's changed the spirit of our home.  It helps to carry the peace we gained at church through the rest of our day.  And I believe it's important to teach my children to sacrifice some of what they want on Sundays as a sign of devotion to God.  It's a way of saying thank you.  It's a way of saying that we are willing to do what is necessary to become the people God would have us be.  (We do have a few exceptions.  We watch the Super Bowl and the Indy 500.)

We end the day with family prayer.


I know I probably lost many of you through this exercise.  Sorry about that.  I'll be back to regular programming next time.  I probably included too much detail, too.  Sorry again.

Oh, and Libby made a comment on the first part of this that reminded me of a way our church is very different from most.  We do not choose which congregation to attend.  Our wards are assigned based on where we live.  Each area of the world is divided into wards or branches.  Whichever boundaries you're in, that's where you go.  I believe this helps us focus more on the gospel itself rather than just the people we like.  Plus, when we move or travel we don't have to hunt to figure out where we belong.  We check the church website to find our ward and that's where we go.  The lessons taught are the same around the world.  It's like having access to instant family wherever we go.

And our ward is truly like that.  We are a tight knit group.  A family.  We serve each other.  Watch out for each other.  Love each other.  There are easily a hundred people in a two or three block radius that I could call on for help.  And I know they would have my back.


Libby said...

Miss Robin thank you for my special note of explanation. I have really enjoyed reading this trilogy so thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Running Circles said...

You didn't lose me. I enjoyed reading about it especially since I am not really familiar with the Mormon church. I like what your family decides to do on Sundays. I like the balance and giving to the spiritual side of your lives. Thanks for sharing and teaching.

Katy said...

What a great idea, Robin! You did a stellar job and you are doing a stellar job with your family and with your calling. My girls ages 12-15 think you are amazing.

And I love having you in my "family."


Linda said...

How special this all is, and how lucky you are to have it. I don't think you could ask for any better way of bringing a family together. Growing up in a church definitely was good for me as a child and teenager.

oh, btw, today the link worked on my last post. go figure.

Danielle said...

I appreciate your explaining things. I especially like how you tell your kids that we sacrifice some of what we want to do on Sunday to as a sign of devotion to God. I'll have to share that with mine.
Sundays can be quite the challenge for active Mormons, especially the moms. ;)
Your example is inspiring to many of us. I miss rubbing shoulders with you and yours.

Bre And Drew said...

I've loved these posts. And I like what you do on sundays to set it apart from the other days in the week. I had that exact thought today during sacrament meeting that I want to try and NOT waste hours on facebook on sundays... I made it till 11:30 pm. I'll try harder to make it all day next week. :)

The Blonde Duck said...

I found it fascinating!

Stephi said...

Wow! Your Sunday's are soooo busy and your church is quite involved. For me Sunday means getting up to go to church (if I go to church) which is two hours long, coming home, eating and sleeping and then maybe going to church again in the evening.

I have been meaning to ask you if the Mormon bible is different from the conventional bible?. Reason I ask is because one of the links you sent me contained excerpt from the book of Moses (I think)