Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bi-Annual Penance

Twice a year our local Mormon congregation meets with several other congregations within the Twin Cities area to have a super big church meeting, it's called a Stake Conference (as in stakes of a tent, yes we're aware it sounds funny).
It's a special kind of torment. While the normal Mormon Sunday church meeting is an amazing three hours long, it includes movement from chapel to age-appropriate-class to age-appropriate-class and comfy chairs. Stake Conference, on the other hand, is two hours of mortification of the flesh by sitting on metal folding chairs. And while there is an attempt to pacify children with crayons and b.y.o. snacks, it only works for the first 15 minutes. Then there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Stake Conference is an act of self denial used to obtain altered states of consciousness. When awake, Stake Conference can be a time of deep soul searching, usually concerning the doctrine that only those who attain the highest level of salvation get to be with their family FOREVER.
Okay, I've gone too far...
CONTRITION: Stake Conference is put together and led by faithful men and women who freely devote their time and talents to their Father in Heaven. They spend months praying, searching, and working to deliver messages in both word and music that will invite the Holy Ghost to edify those in attendance. I just wish I could hear them on the faulty sound system all the way back in the warmed-by-many-bodies gym over the great noise of wrathful children discovering all the fruit snacks have been eaten and sharp metal chairs grating across the wood floor...murmur, murmur, mumble, ungrateful attitude...
But God loves us. He gave us hands, creative minds, and ball point pens. David started with Emma's flowers.

They remind us of the beauty we find without and can create within.

Than he made Enoch a laser and knife shooter, complete with thumb buttons on the side. It reminds us that vengeance is the Lord's.

Calvin got a boomerang blade and a laser with a machine gun on the side to root out and explode our sinful nature.

Willa did her own knees, probably as a reference to sincere prayer. (My children are spiritual giants!)

And then there is the best part of Stake Conference: the afterwards! That's when we run down the sides of that City on a Hill and enjoy our own Sermon on the Mount. The Stake Center (yes there are many, many jokes about that name) ascends high above Minneapolis on a great big hill.

There's got to be a good scriptural allusion to running down a hill, but this much fun needs no justification. And we know we're not breaking the Sabbath because we're still in our church clothes.

Of course, races run at full tilt down steep hills, as with life, have their challenges. Calvin biffed it several times. At one point he jumped up and exclaimed: "I skated with my face! I didn't use any legs!" That boy just kept going.

Until he could go no more.

But it wasn't anything a little love and a big piece of gum couldn't fix.

Take a look at those knees.

Stake Conference is divine! Please join us in another 6 months, you will gain so much more than you give and isn't that the way grace works?


Ann said...

Lisa, you have completely and honestly put into words my exact feelings about stake conference. Down to the smallest font.

Except that we don't have a giant hill in Roseville, and now I feel a little cheated about that.

Diana said...

I love the description! My kids love stake conference because it is the only week they get snacks.
I need to write down the crazy things my kids say more often. I love reading what you kids say!

Alison said...

I love this and feel much the same way. At this point I usually end up in the room where we usually have nursery. Luckily they have a speaker in that room so I can at least listen,or attempt to, while the kids play.

The JNJ Hasleton's said...

You look super graceful in the video! Love it.

Reuben said...

Great Post. Stake Conference is at the top of my list of "Things People Say are Inspiring but Just Make me Fall Asleep." We usually try to go out of town SC weekend. Or find something more fun to do. YAAAAY!! Week Off!!! Not that we're actively looking for ways to avoid going to church... but... Saturday Evening Session? Seriously???? People go to that?

Melanie said...

Finally! Someone says what we're all thinking! and I don't even have kids- although I usually end up watching the kids around me for entertainment purposes anyway, so maybe kids are a good distraction...

I can tell you're experienced parents because the race includes running UP the hill as well- sneaky...

Johnna said...

Love those high-detail drawings on the hands. The captions you gave totally cracked me up.