A visit to an LDS church
This morning, I visited an LDS church for my first time. I had wanted to visit one for some time, but I was too chicken. Since the Mormon worldview is so radically different than the Christian worldview, I guess I expected church to be radically different, too. But the church service was a lot closer to what I am used to than going to a Kingdom Hall, although I think Jehovah's Witnesses have a much more Christian worldview than Mormons do.
I don't know if what I saw this morning was typical of an LDS church service since it's Mother's Day, and a lot of churches deviate from the norm on Mother's day. In most churches I've been to, there's usually a pattern. There'll be a time of singing in the beginning followed by a sermon, and then maybe one last song. But today, a few different people got up and said nice things about their mothers, but there was no sermon. We sang a few hymns, but we didn't sing them all at the beginning. We just sang them at various times during the service.
I looked through the hymnal, which you can search by topic, and saw the section on "agency." Under the "agency" topic was a hymn called Know this: That Every Soul is Free. Being a Calvinist, I was most interested in the lyrics. Here they are:
Know this, that every soul is freeClearly anti-Calvinistic, although it's a common misconception that people are "forced" as if against their wills in the Calvinist view. In Calvinism, those who sin do so quite willingly, and those who worship Christ also do so quite willingly.
To choose his life and what he'll be;
For this eternal truth is given:
That God will force no man to heav'n.
He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.
Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heav'n or hell.
May we no more our pow'rs abuse
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.
I thumbed through the hymnal and noticed that many of them were dated from as early as the 1700's, which means they could not have been strictly Mormon hymns. And there was nothing unorthodox about any of those hymns. Many of the hymns, including the particularly Mormon hymns, were rich in theological content, unlike a lot of Christian songs today.
This was probably the most rowdy church service I've ever been to. There were a lot of noisy kids, and even the adults were talking to each other a lot. I kind of felt sorry for the individuals who got up and spoke because it didn't look like many people were paying attention to them. It was difficult for me to pay attention because of all the distractions going on around me. I wonder if that is normal for Mormons. I've heard they are into having big families with lots of kids.
Communion was served with water. I had heard about that before, but that was the first time I'd ever seen communion done with water.
No offering plate was passed around or anything like that.
I noticed that almost all the men wore black slacks and white shirts. When I first got there, it seemed like all the men we wearing black slacks and white shirts, which made me stand out like a sore thumb. I was wearing khaki slacks and a coloured shirt. I figured they'd know for sure I wasn't a Mormon, and then they'd want to talk to me. But nobody talked to me. Then I saw a few other men wearing khaki slacks, and that made it all better.
After the service, which lasted maybe an hour at the most, there were other classes. My friend, who had invited me, said there was a class for newcomers where I could ask questions. I decided not to go just because it had already taken a lot of nerve for me to show up at the church to begin with. I am quite shy in person, so it's difficult for me to go to a new church at all, but it's even more difficult for me to go to a new and unusual church!