Mine is a simple concern, and I hope to convey it in a way that is both inoffensive and constructive. For while I firmly support the notion that all of us are at different levels on our spiritual journey, replete with different choices and emphases, I also feel it my responsibility to offer sage advice when able, which brings us to this juncture.
I’ve noticed something for years, but its prevalence appears to have risen in the more recent past. I don’t want to pick on any one subset of Mormons, but this appears to be particularly common among our missionaries. At least that’s where I see it take place. And perhaps I’m more sensitive to it because I believe that despite their Benjamin Buttonian increasing youth, I hold our Elders and Sisters to a higher standard as an example for both investigators and longtime members.
That said, this can happen with anyone, even longtime members. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but it’s still worth discussing.
What is that of which I speak, you ask? It’s simple.
We shouldn’t end talks and testimonies like we do a prayer.
I’ve seen far too many talks end lately with, “In the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen” (emphasis added). Are the parties involved here actually thinking about what they are saying in this instance? When giving a talk, the speaker directs his or her remarks to the congregation. This is not a prayer or a set of remarks directed toward God. When closing remarks aimed at our fellow congregants with “In the name of Thy Son,” a speaker is effectively saying that Jesus is the congregation’s son, and is closing his or her remarks and testimony in the name of the ward or branch’s son.[pullquote]When closing talks, you are talking to a congregation, not God. When closing a prayer, you are talking to God. Adjust remarks accordingly.[/pullquote]
It makes no sense, and the fact that this is so pervasive testifies of the fact that we just aren’t thinking about the words we use when closing a talk. This is even slightly worse than a mumbled “InthenameofJesusChristamen” that closes many other talks. Both examples demonstrate a lack of connection to the words being uttered. A proper finale to a talk can be, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” Simple. Direct. Another popular form is something like, “…is my humble prayer, in the name of….” Either way, the point is still to testify in the name of Christ, but not unwittingly changing the divine structure of things with one’s coda.
When praying, of course one can close “In the name of Thy Son,” because the individual is actually talking to God. It makes sense logically and grammatically.
Now you might tell me that it doesn’t really matter in the eyes of God, that it’s the effort and thought that counts, and I might agree with you a bit. But is it too much to ask of our membership to think a bit more about the words they say? It’s a big deal to testify in the name of Christ, and we do Him a disservice by just blowing through our last words without much thought. To many, it’s more important to end the talk than to end it correctly.
And is this a top-shelf issue of importance? Not at all. But it’s also an easy fix and one that can (hopefully) help people be more conscious about the words they use, rather than the typically rote codas we find at the end of our sacrament meeting talks.
To repeat: When closing talks, you are talking to a congregation, not God. When closing a prayer, you are talking to God. Adjust remarks accordingly.
So please, if you see this in your congregation, don’t go point it out to he or she who errs. But at least make a mental note for yourself that you will not engage in the erroneous practice of labeling Jesus as the Son of your fellow congregants.