Some of the most transcendent events that are recorded in the Book of Mormon happened when a group of people gathered.
- King Benjamin called his people together not only to hear him speak, but also to invite them to enter a covenant relationship with God and take upon themselves the name of Christ (Mosiah 1:10-12).
- Alma organized a church after baptizing a group of people who had gathered at the waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:7-17).
- The Savior visited a group of people who had gathered at the temple in Bountiful (3 Nephi 11:1-11).
When Alma organized the church, he encouraged the members to meet regularly:
And there was one day in every week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to assemble themselves together (Mosiah 18:25).
Moroni tells us that, after the Savior organized His church, the members
did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus (Moroni 6:5-6).
This was consistent with the promise the Savior had given to His apostles during His mortal ministry:
Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).
Why is it important to gather with other believers? Elder D.Todd Christofferson gave several answers in his talk “Why the Church?” (General Conference, October 2015):
- An important part of the gospel is loving and serving others. Gathering gives us opportunities to learn to see each other and to treat each other as God would.
- We can provide and receive corrective guidance.
- As a group, we can accomplish things that we would not have been able to accomplish through our individual efforts.
Even something that seems as personal as partaking of the sacrament is normally a collective experience, not an individual one. I liked Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s insight that this experience can be an opportunity for us to get outside of ourselves and think about the people around us:
When the sacred hour comes to present our sacrificial gift to the Lord, we do have our own sins and shortcomings to resolve; that’s why we’re there. But we might be more successful in such contrition if we are mindful of the other broken hearts and sorrowing spirits that surround us. Seated not far away are some who may have wept—outwardly or inwardly—through the entire sacramental hymn and the prayers of those priests. Might we silently take note of that and offer our little crust of comfort and our tiny cup of compassion—might we dedicate it to them? (“Behold the Lamb of God,” General Conference, April 2018).
Today, I will be grateful for the opportunities I have as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to gather regularly with other believers and grow closer to God. I will remember that gathering gives me an opportunity to become more like my Heavenly Father, as I learn to see other people the way He sees them.