Lately I've been feeling no joy in attending church. A few commentors on FeministMormonHousewives.org have made comments saying basically that they sometimes attend other churches to feel the joy of Jesus. I've been realizing that's one of the things I'm missing in our meetings. We are inundated with messages of service, of works, of doing what's right. Far fewer are the profestations of Christ's love in our lives. It seems we are so concerned with "being Christlike" that we forget what that actually means.
To me, being Christlike is loving, accepting, forgiving, and comforting. It's not a to-do list made up of several ways I can serve the Church. The downside to believing in a Church that claims to have the full truth, is realizing that means we believe others don't. And sometimes that conflates with others have 0 truth. Can you imagine how bent out of shape people would get if a Sunday School or Young Women's teacher quoted at length a sermon by Charles F. Stanley (A Southern Baptist preacher with quite an impressive bibliography).
For example, awhile back, I was irritated at repeated lessons on forgiveness. Not because I'm opposed to forgiveness, but because of the unspoken "You better forgive right away or else God won't forgive you!". However, I have yet to hear anyone LDS explaining HOW to forgive. I asked my husband about it (well, about self-forgiveness), and he said like 4 times, Google it. Not read the Ensign, not check lds.org, and not ask my Home/Visiting Teacher. Yet, when I talked to my bestie, she sent me 5 or so LDS articles about the importance of forgiveness. I told her I had come across a great article on how to actually forgive. She said that I should read the LDS ones because they were true.
So many things in Mormonland are black and white. You either have the full truth, or have no truth. You're either spiritually progressing, or backsliding. You're either Temple worthy or a huge sinner. But sometimes, there are shades of gray. Other churches can have some truth; it's OK to admit that and to use that truth to enrich your life. Sometimes, people get spiritually stuck. Or confused. Or transitioning between beliefs. That's normal and OK and people shouldn't be criminalized or pitied because of it. Life, and people, are full of shades of gray. We should embrace that instead of segregating into small-minded boxes.
But I am getting completely off topic. Back to what I meant to post. Feeling the "Joy of Jesus" (Isn't that a great slogan?). I have come up with a solution. Following grand tradition -wasn't Joseph Smith's interest in religion because of tent revival meetings?-I think we should have local Tent Revivals. And not just an outdoor Sacrament meeting. Guitar (or harp, or whatever talent you have in your area) music playing upbeat songs in the background. Casual attire. Maybe some snacks. Not one person sermonizing, but people taking turns talking about the miracles they have seen in their own life. Not like a testimony meeting. The audience can clap, cry, shout, or sing as they feel moved. How awesome would it be, if after you bore a particularly personal testimony of an experience where you knew God loved you, people came up to you, hugged you, clapped, and held your hand?
I don't know about you, but I would love some feedback. I would enjoy hearing people's reactions to my bearing spiritual witness! Think of how simple it would be to feel the Spirit if others could react in a non-stoic way? Imagine how much easier it would be to bear each other's burdens (or even feel the desire to share our burdens, instead of pretending everything's fine), if we knew that the ward family cared for us and demonstrated that?
To some readers, this may sound heretical. Too much like Charismatic Pentecostals or something. But maybe that's what we occasionally need. To roll on the ground and not be so uptight. It's supposed to be a Gospel of joy. Not silent drudgery. We need more emphasis on the Jesus of love and miracles, not the God of rules.