Cover image via Gospel Media Library.
Sheltering at home has been a challenge, but it hasn’t been without some blessings. As we’ve isolated in our homes to hold our own church meetings, we’ve had the chance to renew our focus upon the Sacrament.
Bishops have urged us to sing a Sacrament hymn, make sure the person blessing the bread and water kneels, and approach this ordinance with the sacred reverence it deserves. Since many of us have literally heard these prayers thousands of times, this new setting gives us a chance not only to renew our covenants, but to renew our focus.
It has also given many who haven’t had the opportunity in years, to offer the Sacrament prayers. And this means that, from time to time, mistakes will be made. This also happens in our chapel meetings as young Priests may also be new to the task. Usually the bishop will nod his approval, or indicate that an error was made, and the prayer should be given again.
We don’t have set, rote prayers in our church. But the Sacrament prayer is a sacred covenant in which every word must be right. I have watched teenaged boys cringe with embarrassment when they’ve tripped up. But I want to share a thought that—I hope—will allow peace to fill their hearts instead.
First, let’s remember the purpose of taking the Sacrament. It isn’t a performance. It’s a chance to renew covenants— sacred promises. We pledge to remember Christ, to take His holy name upon us, to witness of Him, and to obey the commandments. We made the same pledges at baptism, and as we repent weekly, we are washed just as clean.
In return, we are promised always to have His Spirit with us— a priceless gift that can guide and inspire us, leading us to eternal life. This tender, personal moment may happen publicly, but it is intensely individual as well. As each of us brings our sins and failings to the table, we plead for greater faith and a changed heart. We pledge to do better. We increase our devotion to God and to our fellow man. It’s the most sacred ordinance, outside of the temple, that we can engage in. It can be absolutely life changing.
And that’s why I love the mistakes. Yes, every time someone stumbles over a word, I am reminded of how very much this is like each one of us. We make mistakes. Daily. We stumble. But—and here’s the important part—we try again. We do not give up. For me, a mistake in saying the Sacrament prayer is rich with symbolism. It can remind all of us that we can fix things. We can try again and again until we succeed. God helps us. He waits patiently as we work out our struggles. This glorious life is indeed one of second chances.
After Sacrament meeting, my husband once took a flustered young man aside and thanked him for his prayer. Bob confessed that he hadn’t been paying close attention, and the mistake was a wake-up call to him. “It was for me,” he explained. “I needed to hear it again and really listen this time.” You could see the boy’s eyes widen with relief.
When a young man needs to start over, my heart swells. First, I think we all pay closer attention. But most of all, I love the reminder that it’s not only okay to try again, it’s essential. Do not despair. Do not give up on yourself. Do not worry about what others are thinking. Do not feel shamed or unworthy. Do not worry. Rejoice in the miracle of forgiveness. Rejoice in the atoning sacrifice of the Lord. Rejoice in God’s love. Rejoice in the blessings of remembering, witnessing, obeying. Rejoice in this gospel of constant change and renewal.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.