Many of my friends and family will be returning to worship in church buildings soon. The first step back will be a shortened sacrament meeting with limited attendance. There will also be cautions in place around gathering, the passing of the sacrament, etc. Some actions will feel a little different at first but I am confident the Spirit will be familiar and we will be able to adapt.
Our family has been preparing our hearts to take this first step back. It is exciting. We have really enjoyed sacrament in the home but I know it hasn’t been easy for everyone.
For nearly a month, I have been studying a general conference talk from 2008 by President Henry B Eyring. In “Our Hearts Knit as One” he speaks to the importance of unity, acceptance and love.
This feels like it could have been written in 2020:
We see increased conflict between peoples in the world around us. Those divisions and differences could infect us. That is why my message of hope today is that a great day of unity is coming. The Lord Jehovah will return to live with those who have become His people and will find them united, of one heart, unified with Him and with our Heavenly Father.
The unique thing about seeking unity is that we can’t do it on our own.
He cannot grant (unity) to us as individuals. The joy of unity He wants so much to give us is not solitary. We must seek it and qualify for it with others. It is not surprising then that God urges us to gather so that He can bless us.
I have always admired people who can decrease contention in difficult situations. It’s a skill I would love to increase. The leader of a group does not need to be the loudest.
Happily I am seeing more and more skillful peacemakers who calm troubled waters before harm is done. You could be one of those peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer. One way I have seen it done is to search for anything on which we agree.
And now the part that really hits home as we return to church meetings.
That same principle applies as we build unity with people who are from vastly different backgrounds. The children of God have more in common than they have differences.
A pandemic can bring such solitude. There is so much time alone or close to it with limited circles. It’s too easy to think or speak poorly of each other when we only see disagreeable social media posts or hear stories from the gossip circles. Our view can become shortsighted. We have to remember that ‘the children of God have more in common than they have differences.” Worshiping together will help.
When left to our own accord, we mostly just gravitate toward people that we already know and like. While not always intentionally, we rarely make the phone call to the people we don’t know as well or with whom we don’t agree. We miss out when don’t find common ground. We miss out when we don’t find good in others.
We must follow that same principle as the Lord gathers more and more people who are not like us. What will become more obvious to us is that the Atonement brings the same changes in all of us. We become disciples who are meek, loving, easy to be entreated, and at the same time fearless and faithful in all things.
I think back to a recent visit in Cuba. A friend and I searched out the very small branch of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Havana. They met in the living room of an apartment. It was warm and crowded. They were so accepting of us and kind. In a country where day to day living can be difficult and limited, they found so much light and hope when unifying around the gospel.
The Saints came in the name of the Lord to give the succor He would give. They came listening to the direction of the Lord’s chosen leaders. Because their hearts were knit, they were magnified in their power.
As we return to church meetings in this limited phase, I hope we can find some of that same unity.