My only son participated in passing the sacrament for the first time last Sunday. Since he’s almost as tall as me and now has such sacred responsibilities, I guess it’s time to admit that he’s growing up.
He has been anxiously awaiting this day, not only because the Primary program was absolute torture for him a few weeks ago, but also because he’s got a great quorum of friends to welcome him.
The day after he was ordained, the deacons quorum president arranged to come to our home with the two other deacons in our ward. They were chauffeured by our Young Men president and deacons quorum advisor, and my husband sat in since he’s the Scout leader, but it became very apparent that this meeting was going to proceed by kid-agenda because the men didn’t say a word. Nearby, I took an extra long time spreading frosting on cinnamon rolls so I could be a silent witness from the kitchen.
The meeting started with the three boys giving him a rowdy pat on the back and one saying, “We four, now that we’re deacons, we’re a pretty big deal now.”
Three of the four boys had been my Cub Scouts, and none were lacking in personality, but their self-proclamation of grandeur caught me off guard — mostly because it’s true.
They fetched a white board and a decorative basket and knelt around the sofa table explaining the fundamentals of passing the sacrament each Sunday. They thoroughly explained dress and grooming standards, passing routes in our chapel, the role of a bishop’s messenger during meetings, and the functionality of a quorum presidency. They provided especially helpful tips on what to do when a row is not full of people, what to do when men are sleeping and when to serve ushers.
After 20 minutes of demonstrations, drawings and funny stories without hardly a breath or pause, one finally noticed my son’s wide eyes and said, “Now, we don’t want you to get all freaked out on this yet. We just want to help you know what to expect.”
Another said reassuringly, “Just pay attention and be reverent and you’ll pick it up. You’re a smart kid.”
Finally, my son uttered his only short and sweet question: “What if I drop a tray?”
“You won’t, don’t worry,” they all said in unison.
They assured him he would receive the most simple route on Sunday, and I had to smile when he approached his very first bench and found that the woman on the edge was, indeed, asleep.
His training that evening also included directions on where to go after his Primary lesson for the opening exercises of priesthood meeting. They attempted to explain the agenda of those pre-lesson gatherings and warned him that he might have to take a turn leading the music sometime. His eyes widened even further at that possible assignment.
“Now that you’re 12, you also get to move people,” said one deacon who spent his 12th birthday assisting the elders quorum in moving furniture for a family.
“You will also be giving a talk in sacrament meeting soon,” another warned. “I was lucky to be able to talk the week I got ordained. You kind of freak out a little at the thought, but if you practice, you’ll do great. Five minutes might seem like a crazy long time, but you’ve got to cram a lot of information in those five minutes, so it will fly.”
The deacons quorum president then talked about Bishop’s Youth Council and the delegation process if he was unable to make the meeting.
I’ll always remember the image of a deacon from our ward who began carrying a briefcase to church when he was called as president of his quorum. In all other ways, he was a regular, goofy, fun-loving and energetic 12-year-old kid, but he took his new priesthood responsibilities very seriously. Now that he’s serving a full-time mission in Argentina, I hope my son is able to follow in his dedicated footsteps of leadership, responsibility and service in our ward.
The meeting officially ended as they all knelt in prayer in our living room where they asked my son to pray. For me, it was a simple yet profound moment of gratitude for the opportunity to raise such a pure-hearted boy.
After cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate and more bantering and storytelling, the boys again slapped my son’s shoulders as they left with the parting words, “It’s a lot to take in, but it’s pretty easy to do when you get into it.”
It is a lot to take in not just for a boy, but also for his mother. So I’ll keep his white shirt pressed and his hair cut more often. I’ll take him to church early and drive him to service projects until he can drive himself. I’ll say a prayer every day that he keeps his mind pure and resists temptations to swear, look at pornography or notice perfumed girls as more than just friends.
And just to ease his mind, I’ll pray that he won’t drop a tray.