of 52 - Cathedral of the Valley -
So far have traveled about 99,000,000 miles.
Thoughts during the week:
of the Valley -
On entering the foyer, I was greeted with hugs!† They have graduated from hand-shaking, though some shyer ones still use that format.† They were warm and enthusiastic.†
They served coffee and donuts there even before the meeting.† $.50 and $.75 on a cart like you've seen in front of the hospital and other places.
The meeting began - "How many of you know that when you rejoice, it's a choice?"
Then the singing began - Choir 2/3 youth, 1/3 adults - clapping on the up-beats - -
"I will rejoice, I will rejoice, for I made my choice
to rejoice in the Lord."
Small combo continues with singing stopped - with spoken call for everyone who was not singing to please join in.
Stage singers were well-miked - and loud.
I looked around at the congregation - all were rejoicing - many with big smiles.
(One elderly lady (85?) was really getting into it.)
After this song:† "If we're not happy yet, there's no hope for us!"† Laughter.† "When Jesus gets praised, it doesn't get any better than that."
Words were projected on both sides.† Hymn books appear to be going out of vogue among those who are caught up with technology.† (I'm glad I'm not using a typewriter to make these reports - you would have many more misspelled words and much more bad grammar.)
Next song: "I Give You My All."† Less jazzy - but one of those very large - and very talented black lady soloists added much emotion - again, the combo continued as a spoken message was given.† During this song, lots of hands were held upward - Y-shaped.
Then they sang, "Jesus the Very Thought of Thee."† "No sweeter sound than Thy sweet name -"† No clapping during this more reverent song.† The words were still projected, but only a few of the congregation were singing.† If I sang on this one, I stuck out a little, so I did.† (I donít mind sticking out a little.)
They took a moment to look around and hug the ones near by.† I got a couple more hugs.† I've always liked hugs.† They seem sincere and without guile.
Then "All in All, You Are My Strength."
It was effective to start out with the jazzy, energetic hymns - and move to the more reverent.† I think this, however, is a misuse of the word "reverent."† The jazzy ones brought obvious reverence also.† Quietness is not a synonym for reverence - love is closer.† Sometimes love is quiet - sometimes it opens its mouth big time.
Last song was called, "Jesus, Lamb of God."† They separated after a verse or two - to have the men sing the chorus while the ladies sang the verses.† Sounded very pleasant.
Collection.† The Big Black lady sang!† Boy, oh boy, did she ever sing!† She is good!† Big applause afterward.† There was dancing in the congregation - you know - bouncing and waving of arms.
The main sermon was given by a young man who had just accepted a call to lead the "Master's Commission."† This appears to be for college-aged youth - and takes from one to three years to complete.† The first year is for learning and becoming committed.† Then if the youth continues, it's rather like our missions.
"We're going to heaven.† Many are not.† We need to find these people and teach them."
us his history - dope using from eleven years old.† A sports figure hero of his bore his
testimony back in
had to get rid of
"I wasn't much of anything growing up - Dad was just a 'good ole boy from Bama' - you know what that is.† (Laughter).† Then God found me - and I was something now."† He turned toward that black lady that sang and said, "Lady - You Bad!!"† (Big Laughter.)† "When I get to heaven, I'm askin' God why He didnít make me a black man."
"I didn't know any Christians.† I was the first one I ever knew."† (Big Laughter)
This whole meeting was inspirational to me - and then it took a turn - -
A slide show and video presentation went up - in support of his talk.† It began:
"28,000 Mormon missionaries give two years of their lives to a false religion."
"Why couldn't 28,000 Christian missionaries do the same?"
It was almost beginning to sound like the "Master's Commission was about copying the Mormon missionaries.† Getting up early - studying - dedicating seven days a week, twenty four hours a day - to the truth, rather than to the false doctrine of the Mormons.
The meeting didn't last too much longer.† I had entered enthused and enjoying the meeting - and had ended up a little dejected.
If I were to give any advice from this, it would be to be positive about everything we know little about - and negative in a caring way - only if we know what we're talking about and have done our research responsibly.† If you want to learn about the Mormons - learn it from dedicated Mormons.† If you want to learn about Communism, learn it from dedicated Communists.†† If you want to learn about the Democrats - donít ask Republicans.† (and visa versa.)
I went up after and asked, "Tell me - how did you come to believe that the Mormons are not Christians?"† The young man really didnít have a clue, and I admitted to him that every single word he said was positive.† The negative came only from the slide and video show.† He mentioned polygamy.† I explained some of that - men being murdered - wives and children fatherless, etc.† That 3% of men were asked to participate.† I asked him if he could tell me that the adultery rate in this church was under 3 percent.† He laughed.† "So," I said, "even if polygamy were adultery - that's the worst you could call it, it was at a lower rate than here in this church - put this in perspective.† And, of course, the Mormons were doing what they believed God wanted them to do in the light of horrible circumstances of the time.† Those who practice polygamy now are not really the Mormons, and there does not appear to be the need we had then."
I gave him the same advice I just gave us: "Always be positive - unless you have done your research and really understand how to effect good change.† It's ok to be critical - but critical does not mean negative."† I judged he was appreciative of it.† I was impressed with him as a young man.† There are times I could have used this advice myself.† If I had been willing to listen, perhaps I was given it a time or two.† (Ok - or fifty.)
I told them that this entire meeting was an upper - until that silly statement about Mormons not being Christians.† They could have said instead, "You know - those 28,000 Mormon missionaries set a wonderful example for us - why donít we follow it?"† And then this would probably have been my favorite meeting of the eight so far.† The meeting at Emanuel Faith was more perfected - but this one was special in a simpler way.† Interestingly, it was Emanuel Faith that I've been told is also strongly anti-Mormon.† Is it our success that is threatening?† Or is it that we say we're the only ones whose ordinances are valid?† Or perhaps a combination of these two?
Love, Brother Chuck
of 52 - Cathedral of the Valley -