I get to give a talk in Sacrament meeting next Sunday, and I've had a bit of trouble deciding what to speak on. It's my last Sunday in this ward, so I thought that I'd give a bit of a farewell speech, which is a little commonplace in Sacrament meeting (a little too commonplace, I think).
Then, I started thinking. The entire meeting is called Sacrament meeting. Shouldn't it all be connected to the Sacrament? Now, to those not of my faith (and, probably, to many within the fold), the Sacrament is a many-faceted and complex topic itself, and is connected to almost every other part of our religion. It symbolizes our remembrance of Christ's sufferings, His body, His blood. It symbolizes the Atonement, grace, etc. It is enacted by the authority of the Priesthood. In fact, just being connected to Christ connects it to all aspects of our religion, as our religion is centered entirely on Christ.
So, why do I hear so many Sacrament talks that are essentially: "Well, I met my husband on such-and-such a date at such-and-such a place, and we were married in such-and-such a temple for time and all eternity." I'm not saying it's a bad thing to introduce yourselves when speaking, but I hear many talks that have little to do with the Sacrament. Sometimes, also, people give long winding talks about fantastic miracles they may have witnessed, and all I have to say after that is "Wow! God must like you a lot! What's wrong with me? Is there anything I should be doing differently?" Personally, I think miracles are very personal experiences that are usually meant only for the witnesses. I don't think we should be flaunting our spiritual experiences all over the place. It is sufficient, I believe, to simply say "I believe." It's a statement that shouldn't require too much explanation. Think of how many people could speak in testimony meetings if people simply got up, confessed their belief, and sat down? That's how it's done at EFY!
Then, there's my personal blind spot: The Tirade of Thought. These people (I'm one of them) get up and spew forth very complex perspectives on doctrines such as: The Godhead. Now, I admit that understanding The Godhead is important to our religion, but it's in the missionary discussions! We know it! And my long-winded explanation of it probably won't change your perspective much, because it's something that, in day-to-day living, is often inconsequential.
Now, how persuasive would I be if I didn't offer a solution?
I think that our Sacrament talks should follow after the styles of persons such as Joseph Smith and C. S. Lewis, two great teachers from very different backgrounds. According to Daniel C. Peterson of Meridian Magazine, "he wrote about everyday realities of human behavior, of prayer and moral struggle, rather than about bloodless abstractions." Joseph Smith was the same way, when he wasn't proselytizing. Our Sacrament talks should offer a bolstering-up: perhaps advice on living righteous lives, new perspectives that helped us do so, or maybe a rehashing of the very basics of the doctrine, such as faith.
So, to that end, I want to make my Sacrament talk centered around a goal. That goal should always be something along the lines of "Impress upon the members a new desire to endure to the end." Because that's what the Sacrament is all about, isn't it? Endure to the end. For non-members, enduring to the end occurs after a person has been given faith, has repented, and has received the baptisms of water and Spirit. At that point, we're "saved," but only to the point that we remain true to the faith, and that is enduring to the end. We try to obtain Christ-like attributes, keep the commandments, and stand as witnesses for Christ.
I want my talk to be practical, not theoretical. I want to talk about those things that are so essential to endurance: prayer, fasting, study, things that we do to make it easier to keep strong against the adversary.