It’s an incredibly personal, private, and sacred moment when we take the Sacrament. We have sung a song of worship, we have listened intently to the prayer, and now, quietly, the bread—and then the water—will be passed to us.
We’ve been told that this is the most sacred ordinance outside of the temple. We know the bread and water represent Christ’s body and his blood, both offered freely for each one of us. We try to fathom the level of love he feels for us. We try to imagine how he could survive that amount of pain and suffering, as he atoned for all our sins.
Though some may daydream and participate without focus, turning it into a meaningless ritual, it is a moment of deep reflection for most. It’s a time of prayer. A time to beg forgiveness, a time to renew our resolve. And it can be a time of joyous gratitude for being washed clean again.
But I recently came across a Conference Address that Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave 30 years ago, and I couldn’t believe I had missed a crucial point of doctrine. It was as if this were the first time I’d considered what it actually means to take his name upon us.
Elder Oaks said the willingness to do this means “we witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of the Savior when he chooses to confer them upon us.”
No wonder this is the second-most sacred ordinance—it ties us directly to the temple! Elder Oaks went on to say, “… our witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ constitutes our declaration of candidacy for exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom… the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (Ensign, May 1985, 80-81,83).
By partaking of the Sacrament, we do far more than simply repent of our mistakes this week. It’s much bigger than rededicating ourselves to doing better, and being Christ’s representative as if we’re wearing his name on a badge. It’s even larger than understanding how the atonement works to pay for our mistakes.
It’s being proactive and making the declaration that we commit to return home, qualified for the Celestial Kingdom. It’s a promise to be worthy, and then to attend the temple, and to receive the blessings therein. It is, outside the temple, the fullest and most complete way to accept the atonement of our Savior and Redeemer, and then do everything in our power to merit that gift.
It’s huge. This insight has forever changed how I will partake of the Sacrament, and the pledges I will make as the emblems of Christ’s body come down my row. I will now think of the temple as well, and the exalting power of those ordinances, and of the promises we are privileged to make each week. I’m determined to make it home.
Watch the music video of Hilton’s song, What Makes a Woman, from her new musical, The Best Medicine (with music by Jerry Williams). Her books are available on her website, here. Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.