How Mormons Worship
It might be confusing to the general public that Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) worship in both meetinghouses (‘chapels”) and temples. Mormons worship in several different ways.
Mormons worship every seventh day, according to the culture where they live. In societies where Sunday is the main day of worship, as in Europe and the U.S., Mormons worship on Sundays. In Israel, worship services are held on Saturdays (the Jewish sabbath day), and in Egypt, worship services are on Friday, the Moslem sabbath day. Sunday services last for three hours, and Mormons are expected to set the entire day apart for worship and service to God — Mormons don’t leave church and go boating, for example. Usually, several congregations, always organized according to location, meet in one building. For this reason, services are staggered, so each congregation (called a “ward”) can meet for three hours, beginning in the chapel, and then adjourning to various classrooms. When three wards share a building, then, one might begin at 9 a.m., the next at 11 a.m., and the last at 1 p.m. Each year, the schedule rotates, so congregations each get a turn meeting at a most desirable time. (Of course, that time is 11 a.m., not too early and not too late.)
Usually, the first meeting is “Sacrament Meeting,” during which the most important event is the passing and partaking of the sacrament (Eucharist) in remembrance of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Partaking of the sacrament worthily (repentance is ongoing) renews the covenants one has made at baptism, to take upon oneself the name of Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. In return, one is privy to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, who testifies of truth, is a comforter, and warns of danger. After the passing and partaking of the sacrament, lay members speak to the congregation as previously assigned. Even young children and youth might be assigned subjects for sermons, so Latter-day Saints become accustomed to speaking to groups of people and preparing spiritual messages. During this meeting, there are prayers, also, and hymns. In most chapels there is a piano and an organ, and classical instruments may be used for special musical numbers. Guitars are never employed, nor is any popular music used in a Mormon worship service.
One Sunday each month, usually the first Sunday, Mormons fast for two meals and give the money they would have spent on food to the poor. Like all donations, including tithing, these charitable offerings are made in envelopes given to the bishopric (leaders of the congregation), so they are confidential. On fast Sundays, sacrament meetings are different. Members of the congregation may go up front to the podium and share their testimony of Christ as they are moved by the spirit. Mormons often cry real tears, as they overflow with gratitude for the gifts Heavenly Father has given them, and Christ’s spirit in the room may be very strong, but there is no “angel talk,” raising of arms, or any other unseemly manifestation of zeal. Christ’s gospel is peaceful; the gift of tongues (prevalent in the LDS Church) is used to increase understanding, and is most apparent among the over 50,000 missionaries speaking hundreds of languages around the world.
There is no statuary, no icons in Mormon chapels. Although artwork depicting the life of Christ is displayed in the hallways, Mormon meetinghouses are very simple. Mormons do not use the crucifix in their worship, nor do they display the cross. Mormons worship the living Christ, and manifest their faith through their standards and the light of Christ that shines through them.
After sacrament meeting, Mormons attend Sunday school. Little children under 12 head off to “Primary” for two hours comprised of a group meeting and then classes with age groups. Youth and adults attend classes, too. Youth are divided by age, and older youth and adults may attend a gospel doctrine class with a four-year rotating study of the scriptures. There are also basic classes in gospel principles for adults, temple preparation classes, family life classes and other optional special classes. The third hour, young men and men meet with their priesthood quorums (all worthy men and boys over age 12 hold some level of priesthood), women attend Relief Society, and young women (12-18) meet together.
Mormon Temple Worship
Temple worship is almost completely different than Sunday worship for Mormons. Mormon Temples are sanctuaries, Houses of God, and they are built and decorated with the finest materials available. Although there are no icons, there are symbolic designs in art and architecture in the temples, along with paintings depicting the life and ministry of the Savior. The Mormon temple ritual is also symbolic.
Temples are usually closed on Mondays and holidays, and for a couple of weeks each year for maintenance and cleaning. Otherwise, they are open from the early hours of the morning until late at night. Worthy Mormons who hold “temple recommends” certifying their worthiness may worship in a Mormon temple at any time and may participate in many ordinances. Very often, Mormons will resort to the Mormon temple when they are troubled by the vicissitudes of life. Meditating in the temple often brings clarity of mind and revelatory experiences. (For a description of the rooms of Mormon temples and how they are used, click here.)
Mormon temples are the most peaceful, pure places on earth. Everyone wears white in the temple, and in some of the ordinance work, men and women are separate. The Church of Jesus Christ is erecting temples all over the world, so that Latter-day Saints may be able to make higher covenants of devotion to Christ there. Some Mormons are so poor they may be able to visit a Mormon temple only once, to seal their marriage and family together in an eternal bond. Building more temples brings the possibility of temple worship closer to the millions of Latter-day Saints around the world.
Article was written by Gale
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