“Sunday Meetings: A Preparation for Work,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, 63
It finally came home to him when a close friend died. “I had been meaning to visit Brian in the hospital,” he said, “but I had to home teach on Tuesday night, and Wednesday I had a committee meeting. Thursday was my personal priesthood interview, and my wife had to leave right afterward to take her Beehives to the roller rink. And Friday night I spent writing my talk for sacrament meeting.”
And then, on Saturday morning, the telephone call from Brian’s son. “I know you and Dad were close,” said the voice over the phone. “I thought you’d want to know.”
“Want to know?” he said afterward. “I wanted more than to know. I wanted to turn back the clock, turn back the calendar, take the few hours it would have taken to go to the hospital, talk over old times, remind my friend of my love for him, give him some comfort in the last pain and perhaps fear or loneliness before he died. But I was too busy.”
The experience taught him something: “It’s possible to be so active in the Church that you forget to be active in the gospel.”
But perhaps a better way to think about it is this: The meetings that we attend are for our preparation. Attending meetings should only be a small portion of our Church activity. Meetings are where we learn how to be active.
Gospel activity is just as much in our homes, among our friends, at work, in the community, among strangers, or alone in prayer, as it is in a meeting!
The Church provides many opportunities for activity: home teachers and visiting teachers have splendid opportunities to serve others; teachers can uplift, inspire, and renew the faith of their students; quorum leaders can organize their brethren in good works.
But if we stop there, feeling satisfied that our attendance record means that we are sufficiently active, then in a sense we are like the servant who hid his talent in the earth. The Church provides us with a certain number of opportunities—but we have a responsibility to improve on that, to magnify those opportunities.
If all our good works are within the walls of the meetinghouse, then are we letting our light shine before men?
If we, like the Levite and the priest, are so intent on our Church business that we miss opportunities for charity to strangers, are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?
The Sabbath is the day the Lord has given us to rebuild, retrench, fortify our spirits and rest our bodies so that we can go out and live the gospel perfectly during the week.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2.)
A paraphrase: And though I attend all my meetings faithfully, and fulfill all my callings, and make a home teaching visit during the first week of the month; and though in all ways I am an active Church member, yet if I do not spend time in love and service for others, then I am not yet a Saint, for I do not yet love the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength; and I do not love my neighbor as myself.
Let the Sabbath be a day for taking stock. (How active have we been during the week in serving the Lord and his children?)
Let the Sabbath be a day for attending meetings, sharing with others our spirit, our understanding of how to serve the Lord.
And then let us use the other six days of each week as Christ did: in bringing joy to everyone we can, “I was an hungred,” said the Lord, “and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt. 25:35–36.)
We are surrounded by those in need, both spiritually and physically. To be active in the Church, we must take the time from our busy schedules to fill those needs. For the gifts we offer to those around us, we also offer to our Savior.