Two Sundays ago we had an awesome sacrament meeting, and I've been trying to figure out what made it so good. I recall I did stay awake for the whole meeting – not sure of the cause and effect there (did I stay awake because it was a great meeting or was it a great meeting because I stayed awake?). All I know is 1 pm sacrament meeting is really tough on me; I never ever took 1 pm classes in college for the same reason.
In any case, going into the meeting I don't remember anything significantly different from other normal weeks. My wife was away doing stake visits associated with her calling, which is not unusual these days. Reverence in the chapel was about normal – a low moan before the meeting, except at the deacons' bench where the chatter is near constant. The hymns were ok; I enjoy singing the hymns and our chorister has a great sense of tempo. My wife is my favorite of our ward's organists, though her new stake calling keeps her away from playing more than we'd both like. But the organist who played is also excellent.
The sacrament itself was not especially different. Our young men generally do a nice job with the sacrament: prayers are understandable when spoken by the priests, and the young men who pass do so with care. They're about as neat and orderly as 12-15 year boys can be.
Our youth speaker was particularly good. Our ward's priests and Laurels, as a rule, do a great job with talks in sacrament meeting. They are typically closer to ten minutes than five, and are carefully prepared and presented. This one, by one of our priests, was on the blessings of the atonement aside from repentance, and it was really quite a nice talk. It displayed a maturing view of the atonement and careful reading of appropriate scriptures and background material. I remember thinking what a great job the young man had done (and I told him so later).
But the talk that really got to me was our second speaker, who happens to be the wife of our bishop's second counselor. She is a young mom, and I don't know her well. Her talk was on the resurrection, and she spoke from the heart using many personal examples of loved ones she has lost and how her testimony of the Savior's resurrection has informed her view of those events at various times in her life.
I think it was the personal nature of her talk that was compelling to me. It caused me to reflect on my own loss of my grandparents in my youth, and my loss of my parents as an adult, and to think about what comfort the Savior's resurrection offered me (more as an adult than as a youth).
But I think the thing that must have made the greatest impact on me was her repeatedly and convincingly bearing testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means in our lives – that we will be resurrected, that we have hope of seeing our deceased loved ones again, that we can become free from the physical pains of this world. As she bore testimony (and she did it throughout her talk in a number of different ways), the spirit washed like waves over me. About two thirds of the way through her talk she quoted Joseph Smith on the truth that mothers would again see their babies that had died. (This topic was a tender one for Joseph and Emma as so many of their children died so young.) I could not stop the tears from flowing, nor did I want to.
(Although my tears were unstoppable, they were not emotional tears. I know myself well enough now to know the difference in me between emotion-driven tears (I cry at Hallmark commercials, for goodness' sake) and what, for me, are spiritual tears.)
She was followed by a soloist who sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." The soloist is a friend of mine, and I know that he does know that, as well as any of us can, anyway. After the wonderful talk, I could not look directly at the soloist as he sang, or those emotional tears would have gotten to me.
The final talk was not so special to me; one of our full time missionaries was assigned to speak on family history work (it seemed an odd choice of assignments to me), but that was ok. I was still in the glow of the second talk; I felt like I'd had my spiritual main course already and the young elder's talk was just the dessert. When the ward choir finished with one of my favorite hymns, "Thy Spirit Lord Hath Stirred Our Souls," I agreed that indeed it had.