Sacred Disruptions

In a recent Sunday School lesson, on Zoom, a couple of sisters wondered if their children had been noisy and distracting in our in-person sacrament meeting earlier that day. Other members assured them that they were not.

My husband was a member of a bishopric in a Young Single Adult ward for three years. When he returned to our family ward, one of the things he noticed was how quiet the YSA ward had been in comparison. You’d have thought those young adults were waiting at the back of the Tabernacle to hear a pin drop, it was so quiet, especially during the sacrament ordinance.

Those sacred silences can help us. As the Primary song says, “It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still, to think about Jesus, his cross on the hill …” (Mabel Jones Gabbot, “To Think about Jesus,” Children’s Songbook) and I always want to add, at the end of the song, a whispered “but sometimes it is.” We can use the silences to focus on the Savior and the meaning of the sacrament He introduced at the Last Supper. We can think about last week and next week and what we might do differently and better. We can remember our covenants. We can be grateful. And sometimes we are distracted by our own thoughts, or by other people.

But when I hear babies cry or children get restless while we are in church meetings, I often think about Jesus telling His disciples to allow little children to come to Him (Luke 18:15–17). If I had been a mother in Jesus’ time, I hope I would have tried to bring my babies and send my older children to Him. I would have liked to sit at His feet myself. No wonder there were crowds around Him all the time—we are hungry for His presence; we are all His little children.

Sister Sam Ryan in our ward described the moments when children make noise in our meetings as “sacred disruptions.” We wouldn’t want to leave our children out of our meetings—although sometimes a child needs to be taken out and calmed or fed or changed. But those years of tending to children’s needs while trying to concentrate in church meetings are all too short. Those of us who are not holding babies or sitting with children can, when the pandemic is over, help those who are. Certainly we can consider how Jesus would respond to those sacred disruptions—with love, with knowing that the kingdom of heaven is like a little child.

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