Monday, June 20, 2016
Ponderize Alma 31:19-25 (12-18 June 2016)
The Rameumptom and Fast and Testimony Meeting
I heard a comment the other day that sometimes fast and testimony meeting looks like the rameumptom experience described in Alma Chapter 31. Has your fast and testimony meeting become a rameumptom type experience?
19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.
20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand.
22 Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.
23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.
24 Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods.
25 Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride.
Note some of the characteristics of this type of worship.
- Everyone gets up and says the same thing.
- Their “testimony” was based on pride, not gratitude
- They only thought of spiritual things on the day of worship and never spoke of God outside of that worship day.
- Their hearts were set upon the things of the world
- They were boastful and prideful.
How do we keep our testimony meeting from becoming like this?
What is the purpose of fast and testimony meeting?
Let’s reference Handbook 2. 18.2.3
After the sacrament, the bishopric member who is conducting the meeting bears a brief testimony. He then invites members to bear heartfelt testimonies and to relate faith-promoting experiences. The bishopric encourages members to keep their testimonies brief so more people may have the opportunity to participate.
It may be best to have young children learn to share their testimonies in settings such as family home evening or when giving talks in Primary until they are old enough to do so in a fast and testimony meeting without assistance from a parent, sibling, or other person.
Some key points:
- Testimony comes from the heart
- They are based on faith.
- They are simple and short
- The point about having young children learn to bear testimony before doing it is fast and testimony meeting may be to help prevent the “look at my kid” syndrome that could distract from the spirit.
What can we do? Here is a quote by Elder Uchtdorf:
"Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love—the image we see in the mirror.
"Pride is the great sin of self-elevation. It is for so many a personal Rameumptom, a holy stand that justifies envy, greed, and vanity. [See Alma 31:21) In a sense, pride is the original sin, for before the foundations of this earth, pride felled Lucifer, a son of the morning “who was in authority in the presence of God.” Doctrine and Covenants 76:25
"If pride can corrupt one as capable and promising as this, should we not examine our own souls as well? (Deiter F. Uchtdorf, Pride and the Priesthood, October 2010 General Conference)
So, here is the bigger question. Is there room at the pulpit during fast and testimony meeting for those who’s heartfelt testimony is not as strong the “standard” testimony that we have labeled acceptable. Can someone stand and say “I believe”, “I hope”, “I wish”, or “I think" rather than “I know”? What if a member is struggling with doubts? Are we able to listen with love as they pour out their heart as they struggle through what will someday become a faith-promoting experience? Perhaps there is room at the pulpit for those who’s testimony is based on faith, comes from the heart, and is simple and short.