I have to confess - fast and testimony meeting is probably my very least favorite meeting of all time. For any non-members who may be reading this. One sunday of every month is designated as "fast sunday". It's usually the first sunday, but not always. We fast for two meals (for us, it's breakfast & lunch) and donate the money we would have spent on those meals to the church to be distributed to those in need. Instead of our normal sacrament meeting with speakers who prepared talks on a chosen subject, we have a fast and testimony meeting where people get up 'as the spirit moves them' to bear an impromptu testimony.
I still remember my very first fast and testimony meeting. I joined the church in college - but I usually went home to visit my parents on the first sunday. And, I would be traveling back to college on sunday causing me to miss church. So, I never once during that entire school year attended a fast and testimony meeting. The school year ended and I went back home. The very first sunday I attended my new home ward was - you guessed it - fast and testimony meeting. I sat in that meeting stunned - wondering if I had made a big mistake in joining the LDS church. I didn't know any better - I just figured that was they way they did it in this new ward - and I wasn't sure I could take it week after week. I did return the following week which was, of course, a normal sacrament meeting. Upon asking questions, I was educated in the law of the fast and testimony meetings.
But, my entire mormon life - it just has never been a favorite meeting. Don't get me wrong, there have been a few in which I felt moved by the spirit. But, generally, it's just the same people week after week blubbering on about something, other people who just seem to like to hear themselves speak, and little kids reciting words that have obviously been rehearsed with their parents. I never encouraged my children to get up and bear their testimony unless they felt moved to - as I've always found it kinda of annoying. It's always pretty much the same words "I know the church is true, I love my mommy and daddy, in the name of ..." Anyway, I'll get off my 'little kid bearing testimony' soapbox now.
Yesterday was a pretty typical fast and testimony meeting. We have an older gentleman in our ward who gets up just about every testimony meeting and rattles on in a monotone voice for about 10-15 minutes. I've gotten to where I just tune him out -even my wife has a hard time listening to him. When he walked up to the microphone yesterday I looked at the clock and there were only about 15 minutes left in the meeting. I thought to myself "good, he's probably the last one" - only, while he was speaking, 6 more people walked up to the front to wait their turn. He finally finished after about 10 minutes and a sister got up. This particular sister normally bears very insightful testimonies, but yesterday she blabbered on for about 5 minutes - not her normal self. Now it was time when we would normally start singing the closing hymn, and we still had 5 people left waiting to bear their testimonies. Fortunately, they were all conscious of the time and were quick. A member of the bishopric got up, apologized to the sunday school teachers since they now had about 10 minutes less time than they had planned on. We sang the closing hymn, had a closing prayer, and it was over - finally.
I don't know, maybe it's just the sour mood I've been in lately - but, given my current spiritual crisis - I don't need more mundane meetings. I need meetings where I leave feeling moved by the spirit. I need to leave church feeling that me being there mattered - that I'd be missed if I weren't there. Just haven't been feeling that lately.
Next week is general conference. To be honest, it too is down there at the bottom of my list of favorite church meetings. We get the BYU channel on cable - so we just sit at home and watch conference from the comfort of our family room. In the past we've always invited two or three other families to join us on Sunday and have a potluck lunch in between sessions. But, my wife hasn't mentioned anything about inviting people over this time. I think she too is starting to wonder why it seems we are always the ones inviting but are never invited.
So, today is Monday - another week, same ol rut . . .