Bringing the Natural World into Sacrament Meeting: A request for ideas
Last year, I had a strong urge to hold Sacrament meeting outside. We are blessed to have some beautiful trees and nice shaded areas on our grounds and it seemed appropriate to conjoin a sacrament meeting focussed on themes of creation and stewardship as we sat in the summer sun, partaking of the sacrament together. Then, after coincidentally reading about similar sacrament meeting Eugene England held as a Bishop, though in an admittedly more grandiose place, I resolved to organise that meeting.
However, once I suggested the idea to a few people in the ward I found there was considerable concern among the members about whether this would be appropriate. Not wanting to alienate those who felt uncomfortable I decided not to push ahead. A month or so later I had an interview with the SP and during that meeting he said it would be inappropriate to hold sacrament meeting outside and explained his reasons*. I explained that, for me, chapels are about convenience and that the Church has a long history of both worshipping in nature and of interpreting the history of the OT in that context as well. He was not convinced and I agreed to sustain his decision.
What concerned me about these two experiences is the extent to which we have sequestered the natural world from our worship. Still feeling that urge, but now with a sense of moderation, I want to work toward collapsing that distinction and intend to hold a dedicated sacrament service (inside) on these themes.
In light of this, it would be most helpful to me if I could gather together LDS resources that could be given to help people in my ward specifically (but potentially any ward in the Church) to help them begin thinking about these issues.There are two directions this can take. First, there are one or two people to whom I could give the last issue of Dialogue to, or George Handley’s classic article on the Environment and Mormonism, also in Dialogue. As such it would be great to collect a list of those resources.
Second, unfortunately, the majority of people would not read that much and also would prefer sources from more ‘official’ channels. Items from GA’s or other official publications, including the scriptures would be most helpful.After the conversation with my SP I spoke with one of the people who were concerned about meeting outside. I explained my reasons and what I hoped to accomplish. She was surprised and said: “that would have been wonderful”. I agree.
I hope that, over-time, our ward will have a tradition where, once a year we worship our God in the world he created and remind ourselves of the important stewardship that we have all been given.