About three months ago, on 15 March 2020, I was overcome as I knelt to participate in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for the first time in our home. (Not very convenient to be overcome when one is called upon to act as voice!) Earlier that week leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had suspended all meetings worldwide, and our local leaders approved formal home worship including administration of the Sacrament.
Today three months later, 21 June 2020, I was again overcome, this time as we arrived at the chapel to partake of the Sacrament for the first time once again with some of the fellow Saints in our congregation. (Not very convenient to be overcome while wearing a mask!) Our daughter Anna gave a fine talk.
In both cases I was surprised by the sudden intensity of the Spirit with which I was overtaken.
The world has experienced episodes of widespread tumult in the past, and will again in the future. In this particular stage of the COVID-19 pandemic we will alternate weeks in home and safely limited congregational worship. While the present moment is more than a drill — for too many it has been, and will be, a matter of life and death, of livelihood vs. subsistence, of faith against fear, of greater intimacy or enforced loneliness — at least from my current position of fortune and privilege I personally have not yet experienced it as being as severe as might be imagined. Perhaps it would be prudent to regard it as a warmup exercise for future waves of additional and possibly more discomfiting turbulence.
In the meantime I bear witness of the sacred nature of both congregational and family modes of gathering. In this mortal sphere both are necessary, as the former is required as a scaffolding to fully establish the latter on an eternal basis. Herein lies safety: “I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few… And… the power of the Lamb of God… descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” The Saints, and eventually all of humanity as the universal family of God, are meant to be gathered — if and when they allow themselves to be so gathered — with a power that is nearly invisible by worldly metrics and yet indelibly tangible to those who partake thereof. And one of the manifestations of this broader gathering is that in the places where and episodes when conditions require temporary isolation, for prepared Saints it will remain true that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
1 Nephi 14:12–14; Matthew 23:37, 3 Nephi 10:4–6; D&C 38; Matthew 18:20