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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Three-Hour Church

When President Nelson announced back in October that our church schedule would be changing to a two-hour block, I wasn't one of the millions jumping for joy.  After all, we've been enjoying two-hour (and often one-and-a-half-hour or even one-hour) church for years now.  Nothing would be changing for us.  Now everyone else would be the ones who were getting in line with the way we do things here in Central Asia.

But after Elder Cook's talk that outlined the new church schedule, I realized that I was in trouble.  That third hour that was getting lopped off the church schedule wasn't just disappearing - it was moving to home study!  This meant that instead of keeping church the same, we were adding a third hour of church.


Sometimes all of the bragging comes back to bite you in the most unexpected ways.

I briefly toyed with the idea of ignoring that third hour of church - after all we haven't had a third hour for years - but realized that Brandon wasn't going to let me get away with it.  Once something is announced over the pulpit at Conference, it can't be ignored.  And I'm pretty sure that the third hour now counts as 'attending all your Sunday meetings.'  Sigh.  Again.

This last week Brandon and I got down to discussing when exactly this third hour of church was going to be happening.  Our Sundays - despite only having two hours of church - are pretty full with meals, naps (which were also discussed in Conference talks about Sunday appropriate activities), individual time with the children, game time with the family, and personal time to write this lovely blog.  There wasn't exactly a spare hour floating around that was dying to be filled with a third hour of church.

The only solution I could come up with was making the naps shorter, one that wasn't too appealing.  Brandon suggested cutting out game time, but I was pretty sure the children weren't going to be very happy about swapping games for church.  

Then he suggested getting up an hour early and having church before church.  After thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized that I'd rather get up an hour early and still have a nap rather than skipping the nap altogether.  Brandon did too, so we set our alarm clock for six o'clock this morning - the first time we'd been up that early for over two weeks.

Everyone bathed, dressed, ate breakfast (for those who weren't fasting), got ready for church, and by 8:45 we were all seated on the couches, ready for church to begin.

The lesson started rather slowly, but one really can't expect six children to be excited about another hour of church when they too have been enjoying a shortened schedule for years.  But by the end, we had to cut the lesson off so that we could leave for church on time.  I'm not sure if the children were enjoying the lesson, but Brandon and I were certainly enjoying unloading our pearls of wisdom on them.  And even better, we had the backing of the Prophet to do it so nobody had a justifiable reason to complain (although they complained anyway).

Our departure for church was much more orderly than usual - no ties being frantically searched for at the last minute, no hair unbrushed, no shoes lost somewhere in the toy bins, no parents haranguing children for being the last one ready again.  And when we all settled down for the sacrament, I (at least) felt much more prepared for the ordinance, having already spent an hour discussing sacred things with my family.

So, I can say after the first week, I like this new two-(three-)hour church schedule.  I'm sure there will be mornings where I will sorely miss the extra hour of sleep and things don't go as smoothly as they did today, but I'm looking forward to having that weekly hour set apart where we can sit together as a family and learn from each other.  And in the end, the extra hour of sleep sacrificed will be well worth it.