But, you know, that's not the real focus of what I've been pondering about. I'm aware of it, sure, but all those thoughts are just part of my dirty, stinking pride that creeps up too often. I've been thinking instead about the miracle of the Church. The absolute wonder of it. I've been thinking about how every Sunday people all over the world gather together to give talks, and read scriptures, and make commentary, and listen, and take bread and water. The people are busy and preoccupied and burdened. They are imperfect. Yet, in each ward that I've been in, as a member or a visitor, I sit in a sunday school class or sacrament meeting and feel the goodness of the people. The pure goodness. They come and they participate for the same reasons I do. They are called by the same Voice and are united under the same Head. I sense that often they have a keen awareness of their imperfection but they are trying. In the midst of all the weirdness and weakness I see remarkable faith and humility, often from the same people! I see hope and virtue, diligence and love. I am taught and touched by their gifts, examples, and sacrifice. It is an incredible thing to see people in their true light. Those talks and lessons and comments are more than words, they are inspiration, they are more than filler, they are truth. The taking of the bread and water in unison with the saints is a process of covenant renewal and sacred worship, not just taking a tray and passing it down to your neighbor. We remember and witness individually and collectively. In the process, my imperfection and their imperfection is being chipped away - all that sin and all those quirks - one piece at a time.
The last few Sundays I've felt this impression particularly powerfully. It was a typical Sabbath today. Priesthood was about service and we heard mission stories and testimony and home teaching plugs. Sunday school was centered on 3 Nephi 17-19 and we discussed the Savior's visit to the Americas. Sacrament meeting was the Primary program and we heard familiar primary songs and the simple Word from the children. We smiled at their indiscernable shouts into the microphone and their waving and daydreaming. For all intents and purposes, very usual meetings. We even had kids crying so loud by the end of the program that the benediction was not audible. Yet, through it all I felt a profound and comforting spirit. It was a spirit of reverence and awe at what was happening. In the process of those lessons I heard sincere and thought-provoking words. I felt faith and testimony. I saw and received charity. I observed humility. I was touched by song. There I was, one of many in our building today and one of millions all over the world, to worship and to learn. I came to commune with God and be uplifted by my brothers and sisters. Wonderfully and mercifully, in the midst of all the imperfection and weirdness, I did and I was.
At the close of the meeting our Bishop stood to offer a few closing remarks. He spoke emotionally of how the previous day he had participated in the funeral of his infant grandson, who we had all been praying for with him and his family for several weeks. He mentioned how he had been so touched by the outpouring of love and support from the ward that this little baby and his parents belong to. He bore testimony of the blessing of little children. As he concluded his remarks the primary children presented him with a huge card showing their love for their Bishop at a time of grief and loss. He thanked the children and simply said, "there is always good that comes of tragedy". It was a snapshot of exactly what I'm talking about. The tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat prevented me from singing most of the closing hymn, even with all the screaming children. I was just consumed for a moment in the goodness of God and the goodness of His people. The words of the hymn expressed the feelings of my heart.
Before thee, Lord, I bow my head
And thank thee for what has been said.
My soul vibrates; my poor heart sings
When thy sweet Spirit strikes the strings.
How sweet thy word I've heard this day!
Be thou my guide, O Lord, I pray.
May I in patience do my part.
Seal thou the word upon my heart.
Do thou, O Lord, anoint mine eyes
That I may see and win the prize.
My heart is full; mine eyes are wet.
Oh, help me, Lord, lest I forget.
So may my soul be filled with light
That I may see and win the fight,
And then at last exalted be,
In peace and rest, O Lord, with thee.