One of the finest sermons on Sabbath day observance and church attendance I’ve ever heard was taught by a wonderful woman I know. She has struggled with a smoking addiction, discouragement from the emotional pain of divorce and single parenthood, poverty, and the everyday stress of trying to be both mom and dad to her kids.
Recently she was asked if she could take over a co-workers shift on an upcoming Sunday and she said she was free anytime before 9 and anytime after noon, but during those three hours she’d be at church.
Her co-worker, with incredulity, asked, “Wait, YOU go to church? But you smoke! How come you go to church?”
With total understanding of what the gospel of Christ is really about she replied, “Church isn’t for perfect people, church is for everybody.”
I cried when I heard that because of the pure truth of it. If you sit quietly in the chapel pews on Sunday morning and take the opportunity to glance around at your fellow worshippers you’ll see a host of imperfect people who are doing the best they can to live their life’s.
Last week I saw a young mother who was struggling all alone with 4 young children, with one who needed to be taken into the foyer several times because an hour is a really long time for an active boy under the age of 2 to sit still. She could have been wondering “what’s the point of this? I don’t ever get to hear the testimonies anyway.” I know I’ve been there before. But another young woman, with no kids of her own, moved up to sit with her so she wouldn’t have to be alone. Her gratitude was quick and sincere. There was no judgement on either side.
I watched a middle-aged family struggling with the noise and disruption of an older child with autism. He was loud, frustrated, and unhappy. I watched the parents and other children do their best to help him with compassion and kindness. I saw another woman pat the mother on the back, smile and speak to her so that she would know that the noise was not a hindrance to her own worship experience.
I saw a group of elderly widows sit together on a pew and hug one another warmly. Following the service I saw several young girls run up to those beautiful grandmothers and greet them with smiles and hugs which were returned with enthusiasm.
I watched as several individuals, with heartaches unknown to me, wept silently as they partook of the sacrament, a symbol of Christ’s enduring love.
It was a room full of imperfect, broken people. Yet for all our brokenness we held a tremendous amount of love in our hands and I felt strengthened and healed in the act of worshiping together.
How grateful I am for the Church. For the love I’ve looked for and found there.
You find what you look for in this life. If you go to church looking for imperfect people you will surely find them there.
The question is, what do you intend to do with them?
What will you do with the hearts of those who have chosen to worship together with you?
Will you support and sustain? Will you help and heal those that come seeking both? Your love and your testimony are needed at church.
Your words may be just the ones needed to buoy up a discouraged soul.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into acovenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?