Cover image via Gospel Media Library.

We eat and drink “in remembrance” of Him, as a memorial to the sacrifice of His body and blood.  I had, just that week, given my blood through the Red Cross and received the email memorializing my willingness to donate by proffering a T-shirt.  A friend received an organ donation; someone gave part of their body to save him.  He will never forget the sacrifice and works continuously to create a remembrance that will seem adequate to the sacrifice.  So, we too, weekly memorialize the sacrifice of our beloved Savior, but we also covenant to “always remember Him.”

So today perhaps it was natural to be struck again with a question that had been ripening in my heart.  “Is there a difference between ‘remembering someone’ and ‘remembering about someone’?  I both remember and “remember about” my father because I spent time with him, worked and played with him, obeyed him, loved him, etc.  I can easily get lost in remembering about both his values and teachings as well as our shared experiences.  We camped together, faced dangerous rapids canoeing together, shared professional training, gardened, worked until we could hardly walk together, etc.  I watched him love my mother and care for her when it wasn’t easy.  I watched as he beat my macho high school football star friend, arm wrestling.  He was my hero, my example, my teacher, my model. 

I never doubted that God could love or discipline because my father both loved and disciplined.  I remember as a young teen listening to him speak as the bishop and later from the high council.  I marveled at his charisma and eloquence from the pulpit and wondered at what age that ability would distill upon me. Certainly, I thought it was just a natural part of growing to be just like him.  I remember as he rose in professional responsibility, position, and renown, only to be betrayed, besmirched, and dismissed. Somehow, he continued successfully living his values in private life to be later idealized as the desperadoes failed in their plans, so that years later, he was invited back into public life. 

I relish those memories with him, but I also love so many other memories about him.  It brings such joy to me and my posterity to share his recorded or recounted WW2 medic stories, his funny FBI stories, and his faith-legacy, with children and grandchildren. I look forward to the day when we will embrace again after I follow him in life’s graduation.  He was a true disciple whose life modeled the Savior’s, who he served and adored to the end as an ordained patriarch.

As I placed that symbolically broken bread into my mouth to renew my covenant to “always remember” my Savior, I realized through all the years, I had only been remembering about Him.  Perhaps that is why sometimes my mind would wander as redundancy became a problem while I ran reruns of movie portrayals.  To make matters worse, I remember, perhaps inaccurately, being told that President David O. McKay had said that one could determine one’s current state of preparation for a certain kingdom of glory by what filled their mind during the sacrament.[1] 

Between states of interrupting focus-loss, I would have bursts of worshipful pondering, reverent remembering, and scripture searching to find inspiring, edifying pertinent verses.  Through the years I have come to find those bursts precious and renewing with fewer invading wanderlusts.  But then, this morning as those precise words came to mind, with that question, “are you remembering Him or remembering about Him?” A JST reference in Mark caught my attention,

20 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them, and said, Take it, and eat.

21 Behold, this is for you to do in remembrance of my body; for as oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you.

22 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it.

23 And he said unto them, This is in remembrance of my blood which is shed for many, and the new testament which I give unto you; for of me ye shall bear record unto all the world.

24 And as oft as ye do this ordinance, ye will remember me in this hour that I was with you and drank with you of this cup, even the last time in my ministry.

25 Verily I say unto you, Of this ye shall bear record; for I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine with you, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. JST Mark 14

I wanted more hours with Him, more moments of being enfolded in the arms of His love, more moments of feeling His encompassing patience even while being corrected or chastised, more of any of that indescribable divine nectar that needs only to be savored until the soul is filled.

I started to mentally enumerate and detail my personal experiences, those where I directly tasted of His fruit.  Like with the memories of my father, the more I remembered, with greater detail and the subsequent after-effects, the more I wanted, and the more fervently I prayed for more. In answer I was taken to,

“How knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” Mosiah 5:14

That enlarged my memory to include those instances of the unseen divine synergy that produced success in my years of service beginning with my mission miracles, patriarchal promises, church callings, and family struggles and joys.  It kept expanding to include those private moments agonizing over personal weakness and being filled with His strengthening grace that allowed me to step into uncomfortable assignments that seemed way beyond my pay-grade.  He had been there through it all, as I stepped into the synergy of His pleasing yoke. Likewise, Steve Chapman pens the lyrics to “Remember, Remember.”  Here are some:

Remember to Remember (Lyrics)[2]

Well, I’ve been looking back over my shoulder
Retracing every step trying to unforget
And I see the mountaintops I’ve journeyed over
And I see the valleys deep where I crawled on my hands and knees
Pages and memories filled with joy and stained with tears
They call my name and if I listen, I can hear them saying

Remember the way He led you up to the top of the highest mountain
Remember the way He carried you through the deepest dark
Remember His promises for every step on the road ahead
Look where you’ve been and where you’re going
And remember to remember
Remember, remember

And now I’m looking out at the road that’s waiting
But my eyes can only see so far out ahead of me
As sure as the sun will shine there’ll be more mountains I will climb
And more deep dark shadowlands where desperate faith is all I have
Until I’m home, I’m resting all my hope and trust
In the only One whose name is: God with us

Even more, I wanted to be like the Nephites to whom He said, after showing Himself to them, And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you.” 3 Nephi 18:7 I wanted those kinds of real memories to savor and unite me with Him.

Then I remembered loving, “And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.” DC 101:38 There is personal benefit just in the act of remembering and then seeking in order to more fully experience… “THAT in patience ye may possess your souls.”  Self-mastery is the first element of spirituality, the second is “communion with the infinite.”[3]  This is the very thing that our sacrament service should generate as the promise of “always having His spirit to be with” us becomes our personal reality.  With patience, the transforming power of our sacramental feast, our covenant renewal, cleanses us and “keeps us unspotted” from the ever-staining world.

“One of the most impressive services I have ever attended was in a group of over eight hundred people to whom the sacrament was administered, and during that administration not a sound could be heard excepting the ticking of the clock—eight hundred souls, each of whom at least had the opportunity of communion with the Lord. There was no distraction, no orchestra, no singing, no speaking. Each one had an opportunity to search himself introspectively and to consider his worthiness or unworthiness to partake of the sacrament. His was the privilege of getting closer to his Father in heaven. That is ideal!”

“To have communion with God, through his Holy Spirit, is one of the noblest aspirations of life.”[4]

I love those memories both with and about my Savior and was determined to have more THAT I might ALWAYS have His spirit to be with me… which in-turn multiplies my library of memories!

[1] Though I have searched the teachings of David O. McKay, I have yet to find any quote supporting the idea.  Chapter 4 of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, is the best collection of quotes on the sacrament by President McKay I have found.

[2] Source: LyricFind; Songwriters: Steven Chapman; Remember to Remember lyrics © BMG Rights Management


[3] “Spirituality is the consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the Infinite. David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals (1953), 390.

[4] David O McKay,  p30