Monday, January 5, 2009

Creative Ordinance Administration

I have a slightly different take on the sacrament prayer and the baptismal requirements than what I have seen in most wards and branches I have attended. In each case, I accept fully the idea that the words have been given by revelation and should be repeated verbatim (and that a baptism must include full and simultaneous immersion to keep the symbolism intact), but I believe the administrative form is almost completely adaptable. I believe we should do anything within reason to ensure that the ordinance need be done only once (or only one additional time when a mistake is made) - and can be done by each and every worthy Priesthood holder.

If that means one Priest places a hand on the shoulder of the kneeling Priest and squeezes the shoulder of the one saying the prayer if a mistake is made (so that the one voicing the prayer can correct immediately and not need to repeat the entire prayer) - or multiple brethren stand in the baptismal font to help immerse an unusually heavy person - or someone “coaches” an illiterate Priesthood holder (or one who simply cannot memorize the prayers for some reason) one small phrase at a time - or the person being baptized sits on the floor of the font while someone holds down her legs to keep her feet from coming out of the water - or a mute Priest signs the prayer with hands above his head while the members in the congregation (all having been taught the prayers in sign language) keep their eyes open and watch the prayer being "said" (or another Priesthood holder verbalizes the prayer as the mute Priest signs) - or someone signs the prayer for a deaf member in the congregation - or any other method of ensuring that every worthy Priesthood holder feels confident that he could administer the ordinances as designed, then so be it.

If, for whatever reason, the baptismal ordinance needs to be repeated, I believe the presiding Priesthood authority should explain the need to the observers PRIOR to the repeated performance - and take whatever additional steps are necessary to ensure that one more time will be enough, again explaining what is being done and why. (In my opinion, a third attempt is a failure of leadership.) I also believe any time the sacrament prayer is repeated, the person conducting should explain immediately following the completion of the administration of the ordinance. In each and every case I have observed that the explanation has been presented properly, the Spirit was stronger than it had been initially.


Jacob J said...

I couldn't agree more. I helped the priests administer the sacrament today and had a hand on their shoulders while they were saying the prayer to give them quick feedback if they missed something. I like your "three times is a failure of leadership" rule.

Unknown said...

It's interesting... I think people in the church are sometimes afraid of ordinances. Meaning, afraid of doing them wrong, or messing something up if they question the way something is done in any way. I like the idea of having people explain things, every once in a while, just because. It could be a good reminder of what each ordinance symbolizes... sometimes congregations get sort of lulled by the repetition.

In particular, I wish we could have informational temple sessions. That would be so nice. I feel kind of lost in the temple still... I get little spiritual tidbits here and there but I've never really understood a large part of those ceremonies. The peace is very apparent, and I appreciate that, but I guess I'm just a very curious person who likes to know as much as possible about things.

Papa D said...

Thanks, Jacob.

NSG, I have said many times in many places that I believe temple prep classes should deal MUCH more openly and directly with the ordinances of the temple. Nearly everything there has been detailed by Elder Packer, Brother Nibley and others in things they have written, and there actually is very little that is forbidden explicitly to discuss. Some things are restricted, and I try not to quote verbatim, but I would encourage a much different temple prep class than normal - and repeat attendance every few years for those who hold recommends.

Christy said...

These are wonderful ideas that I have never seen (or heard) - although I wouldn't know if someone was squeezing a shoulder. Again, you have addressed the spirit that should be part of everything we do.

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