The idea that there was an option to sacrament meeting had never occurred to my father, but he and his three teenage siblings all sat up and paid careful attention. That Sunday afternoon ride in the country was probably an enjoyable family activity, but that small decision became the start of a new direction which ultimately led his family away from the Church with its safety, security, and blessings and onto a different path.
Each week we have the opportunity to attend a sacrament meeting, where we can renew these covenants by partaking of the bread and water of the sacrament ordinance. This simple act allows us to once again pledge ourselves to follow Jesus Christ and to repent when we do fall short. God’s promise to us in return is His Spirit as a guide and protection.
From Preach My Gospel, our missionaries teach that revelation and testimony come when we attend our Sunday Church meetings: “As we attend Church services and worship together, we strengthen each other. We are renewed by our association with friends and family. Our faith is strengthened as we study the scriptures and learn more about the restored gospel.” 1
One might ask why we have three separate meetings on Sunday and why the need for each. Let’s briefly look at these three meetings:
• Sacrament meeting provides the opportunity to participate in the ordinance of the sacrament. We renew our covenants, receive an increased measure of the Spirit, and have the additional blessing of being instructed and edified by the Holy Ghost.
• Sunday School allows us to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom,”2 that all might be “edified and rejoice together.”3 Great power and personal peace come as we understand the doctrines of the restored gospel.
• Priesthood meetings are a time for men and young men to “learn [their] duty”4 and to “be instructed more perfectly,”5 and Relief Society meetings provide the women of the Church an opportunity to “increase their faith…, strengthen [their] families and homes, and help those in need.”6
Likewise, our young women and children have their own meetings and classes where they are taught the gospel as they prepare for important responsibilities that will come to them. In each of these unique but connected meetings, we learn the doctrine, feel the Spirit, and serve one another. While there may be exceptions due to distance, travel cost, or health, we should strive to attend all of our Sunday meetings. I promise that blessings of great joy and peace will come from worship during our three-hour Sunday meeting schedule.
Our family has committed to attend all of our Sunday meetings. We have found that this strengthens our faith and deepens our understanding of the gospel. We have learned that we feel good about our decision to attend our Church meetings, especially as we return to our home and continue to observe the Sabbath. We even attend all of our Sunday meetings when we are on vacation or traveling. One of our daughters recently wrote to say that she had attended church in a city where she was traveling and then added, “Yes, Dad, I did attend all three of the Sunday meetings.” We know that she was blessed for this righteous decision.
We each have many choices to make as to how we observe the Sabbath day. There will always be some “good” activity that can and should be sacrificed for the better choice of Church meeting attendance. This is in fact one of the ways that the adversary “cheateth [our] souls, and leadeth [us carefully] away.”7 He uses “good” activities as substitutes for “better” or even “best” activities.8
Continually holding fast to the rod means that whenever possible we attend our Sunday meetings: sacrament meeting, Sunday School, and priesthood or Relief Society meetings. Our children and youth attend their respective meetings in Primary, Young Men, and Young Women. We should never pick or choose which meetings we attend. We simply hold fast to the word of God by worshipping and attending our Sabbath meetings.
My father was fortunate to marry a good woman who encouraged him to come back to the church of his youth and begin again to progress along the path. Their faithful lives have blessed all of their children, the next generation of grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren.
Just as the simple decision to attend or not attend one of their Sabbath day worship meetings made a significant difference in the lives of my grandparents’ family, our everyday decisions will impact our lives in significant ways. A seemingly small decision such as whether or not to attend a sacrament meeting can have far-reaching, even eternal, consequences.
1. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004), 74.
2. Doctrine and Covenants 88:77
3. Doctrine and Covenants 50:22
4. Doctrine and Covenants 107:99
5. Doctrine and Covenants 88:78
6. Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 9.1.1.
7. 2 Nephi 28:21
8. See Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–8.
Read the full address here.