It’s the whole reason we go to church. Or it should be. It’s that sacred moment when emblems are blessed, and then served by those with authority, to those in the congregation.
Most members know that this is the most sacred ordinance outside of the temple. Sacrament comes from the Latin sacred, and means solemn oath. They know we should be quiet and reverent. They know this is the time when we renew our baptismal covenants. They know the wording of the prayers. But do they know the power they unlock when they worthily partake?
Families with young children often feel this is the most stressful time of the entire meeting, as they try to keep their youngsters quiet, so as not to disturb others. Many families help their children practice reverent behavior at home, even with folded arms and non-wiggling feet. But do all children understand why this moment should be particularly reverent?
It’s easy to let this ordinance become a routine ritual, simply a moment of quiet reflection as the bread and water make their way down the row. Leaders on the stand often comment on the differences they see in the way members approach this ordinance. Some are clearly distracted or inattentive, while others experience a sublime communion with their Heavenly Father.
Even those who make a point to really listen to the prayers often miss a powerful promise. In Matthew we read, “And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.”
What grander hope could anyone have, than to have Christ’s Spirit with us? Imagine his guidance and direction at every moment! And our part of the agreement is simply to remember him. This means more than just being able to recall Bible stories and a knowledge of who Jesus is. The word “remember” here means to be a disciple, to obey the Lord’s commandments, and to show in our behavior that he is ever present in our thoughts.
Another power we unlock when we partake of the Sacrament, is God’s power to forgive. This incredible process, guaranteed to the repentant through Christ’s atonement, means we can be as clean each week as we were when we stepped out of the waters of baptism. By humbly turning from sin with changed hearts, we can plead for-and receive-remission of our sins. That simple act of partaking of the bread and water-symbols of Jesus’s body and blood-gives us a clean slate, a fresh start. Could there be a greater power on earth?
What a tragedy it is when someone skips Sacrament meeting when they could otherwise attend, and avail themselves of such wonderment, such miracles. Or to kid themselves that they can experience equally spiritual feelings out in nature instead, or meditating at home, as if these even remotely approximate the healing ordinance of the Sacrament itself.
We also rob ourselves of this power when we attend, but fail to think of the Savior, forgetting whose body is represented under that white cloth. I keep this quote from Stephen E. Robinson’s book, Believing Christ, pasted in the front cover of my scriptures, and keep it as a reminder of my purpose in coming to church:
“Each week we come before the Lord as we prepare for the Sacrament and say essentially, Heavenly Father, I wasn’t perfect again this week, but I repent of my sins and reaffirm my commitment to keep all the commandments. I promise to go back and try again with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I still want and need the cleansing that comes through faith, repentance, and baptism. Please extend my contract, my covenant of baptism, and grant me the continued blessings of the Atonement and the companionship of the Holy Ghost.'”
The Sacrament is the key to peace and joy in this life, and has the power to impart both. John H. Groberg of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy, said in 1989: “As we worthily partake of the sacrament, we will sense those things we need to improve in and receive the help and determination to do so. No matter what our problems, the sacrament always gives hope… The life that would be given, the forgiveness that would be obtained, the spiritual strength that would be received! The light that would thus be generated would cause Zion to shine forth brilliantly and would prepare a people pure in heart, ready for the Lord’s second coming in a way that would be marvelous to behold.”
And every one of us can access that power. Every single week. Wow.
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Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.