When I was twelve, I was ordained as a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood and given the duty of passing the sacrament. This meant that, at the appointed time during church every Sunday, my Aaronic Priesthood brethren and I would distribute the bread and water (symbolizing the body and blood of Christ) to the congregation.
This is lauded in Mormon culture as an important step in the development of the next generation of honorable Mormon men. The act of passing the sacrament, I was told, was a sacred duty that I was to take very seriously as the first of many of my Priesthood responsibilities. But to illustrate the silliness of the so-called "preparatory Priesthood" and the idiocy of placing a "sacred duty" in the hands of a twelve-year-old boy, let me describe the thoughts that went through my head every time I passed the sacrament: I hope this looks cool.
I was a cookie-cutter Mormon child. I was a perfect-attendance-scriptures-open-always-knew-the-answers-in-class-bishop's-son-honest-to-goodness-true-believing-Mormon and all I was thinking about was making sure I looked cool.
To break it down in a little more detail, these are the specific thought processes that often took place during my service as I passed the sacrament.
Approach in PERFECT UNISON
When approaching the sacrament table, I got used to watching the deacon next to me for any of the slightest signs of movement. When he shifted his weight just so, I knew he was about to step forward and I would step forward as well. I imagined the congregation admiring how seriously we took our responsibility as evidenced by the military efficiency and Olympic synchronization of our movements.
Synchronize the Row-Alternating Action to PERFECTION
The two of us who served the long rows down the middle of the chapel would start in each aisle and send our trays across to each other. I'd send my bread tray across row one and wait at the end of row two for my companion's tray to reach me. Then I'd pass that to row three and wait at the end of row four. But if the rows were unevenly populated this system could get out of sync quickly. If I was getting too far ahead, I'd try to buy time for my companion to catch up by moving more slowly. Considering that I only had to change one row at a time, I didn't have a lot of opportunity to slow down, but I did my best. It required a lot of concentration.
The Handicapped Lady Is SLOWING ME DOWN
Every now and then, I'd come across a member who had some kind of disability that hindered the ability to grab-drink-discard-pass with speed and efficiency. As I waited patiently, I'd watch my brethren out of the corner of my eye and observe in dismay as they finished their assigned sections and returned to the aisle to wait for us all to finish. Even worse, sometimes the handicapped guy would be sitting in a middle row, and that would throw the synchronizing action off irreparably. I'd silently will the elderly member's nearby family to speedily assist him so that I could get a move on with my non-saving ordinance.
Hold the Tray at PERFECT REACHING DISTANCE
At the beginning of each row, I'd offer the person sitting there the tray of bread or water. I would always try to place the tray at the optimal distance for that person to reach it, paying attention to their height, the location of their arms (in front, at their sides) and their seated position (hunched forward, leaning back). I prided myself on this skill because my mother had complimented me on it once. If I held the tray too far away some would have to stretch to acquire the precious sacrament and if I held it too close they'd have to T-Rex their arms to grab anything.
Don't Look at the HOT GIRL
If I were to pass the sacrament to a lovely young lady sitting on the end of the row, I would not make eye contact. Nor would my eyes travel to my favorite parts of her dress (the parts that had boobs or butts under them). Reverence was a requirement of my esteemed office as deacon, so I would hand her the tray with the utmost reverence and usually stare at her knees (because knees are not very exciting). Secretly, though, I was hoping that she was impressed by how solemn I was...and by my ability to not look at her because I was so focused on fulfilling my Priesthood duties that I could ignore her beauty.
Stand in ABSOLUTE SOLEMNITY
While waiting for my fellow deacons to finish passing the sacrament, I would stand in the aisle until they formed a line behind me. I would stand expressionlessly, head slightly raised, in a stance of humble self-importance (yeah, I know that's contradictory...now) and wait patiently. It was imperative that I not crack a smile or look at anyone. The most important thing was to look like I was a real Priesthood holder doing really important Priesthood stuff.
Take the Sacrament and BOW HEAD PENSIVELY
At the end, when the Priests at the sacrament table offered us the sacrament, I would partake of it and immediately bow my head, as if in deep consideration of the breadth of the atonement. Truthfully, I hardly had time to even think the word "atonement" before we sat down again and the sacrament was over, but it was important to milk that moment to appear as pious and sincere as possible. It wasn't that I didn't believe the church was true--I totally believed it. But it was very important that I also appeared to believe it. I had to look good for everybody else.
And sadly, I was one of the deacons that took passing the sacrament the most seriously. We were twelve. What did you expect?