Almost half of the books I have written to date are inspirational nonfiction books designed to boost Christian faith and discipleship. Two of those speak specifically to the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) tradition. Today, I felt impressed to share a chapter from one of these that addresses the weekly moment of Sunday worship called the Sacrament. [This is also known as Holy Supper, Communion, the Eucharest, etc. in other sects.] I believe many of the principles in the chapter apply to Christians of all denominations, and therefore I hope this excerpt will enhance your appreciation of the moment we commemorate the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on our behalf.
5 ~ The Best Hour
“You go to church for three hours?! That must be boring!”
Ever heard that one? Ever felt it?
Honestly, the three-hour block of church every week can potentially be a snore-a-thon if we enter it expecting to be entertained. The music is slow, we’re not supposed to talk too loud, and unless we’re in Primary, we have to sit the whole time.
However, if we go to church hoping to be edified, it can be something we really look forward to. Something we enjoy so much we even invite our friends!
But how is that going to happen if all we do is sit there and listen to talking heads? The only funny parts are hearing that one monotone kid sing really loud or seeing the conducting bishopric member cry again. Otherwise, we’re just stuck there with yap yap yap. Right?
One of the most amazing things in the world happens during that sacrament meeting hour. It takes place in the (hopefully) quietest part. It’s when a priesthood holder—maybe even you—kneels down and speaks the words of a sacred prayer. A prayer that is a covenant. A covenant that has the power to change our lives.
#1 Trending Verse
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember Him, and keep His commandments which He hath given them, that they may always have His Spirit to be with them. Amen” (Moroni 4:3).
This verse is recited more than any other verse in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and many of us have it memorized without even trying because we hear it so often. But do we Hearken to it? Are we Holding Fast to it?
Let’s break this down like we did with the verse from James.
O God, the Eternal Father… We are talking to the Creator of the universe and everything in it, the all-powerful, all-knowing being who also happens to be the literal father of our spirits. There should be nothing casual or flippant about this conversation. If we’re truly trying to find a testimony of Heavenly Father and His Plan, this is a great time to feel Him near because there’s nothing else going on and we can focus on Him.
…we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ… We are recognizing that our access to the Father comes only through the Son, our Savior. Because we should be mindful of whatever we do or say in His name, we consider the upcoming request as worthy and important.
…to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it… We aren’t just blessing it so it will taste good or “nourish and strengthen our bodies”. We need that bread to be sanctified to our souls, meaning that it carries a soul-purifying power.
Let’s pause here and ask ourselves some serious questions. How am I doing with keeping the commandments? Do I live the standards the Lord has set? Is my attitude about sacred things reverent?
If the answer is a shrugged “meh”, we need to repent.
If the answer is, “I could do better, but I need help getting there,” then we’re in great shape because the sacrament is about to help a lot.
By erasing the mistakes and burning the baggage. We don’t have to carry our obedience batting average with us all the days of our lives. We can reset each week with a perfect score for having kept the Sabbath Day holy and go from there. It’s the ultimate game do-over. The clean slate. The “wash, and be clean”. Because the sum of our mistakes does not equal our worth. If we come to the sacrament ready to let it sanctify us, it’s a guarantee that we will walk away feeling new.
…that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son… At the very end of The Book of Mormon, Moroni suggests that we “remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that [we] shall receive these things, and ponder it in [our] hearts” (Moroni 10:3).
Why should we spend time thinking about all the Savior has done for humanity throughout the ages, including the sacrifice He made in Gethsemane and on the cross?
Because it’s pretty near impossible to think about all of that—remember His amazing love and goodness—and not feel something positive towards Him. It fuels our love for Him, and that leads to the spiritual miracles about to be named, so stay tuned.
…that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son… We’re saying we’re willing to be called in Christ’s name. Christians. We’re willing to let others know that we belong to Him.
Some teens are embarrassed to be seen with their parents. They want to be dropped off a block before the destination so friends won’t see Mom’s goofy house-cleaning clothes. They want Dad and his corny jokes to stay scarce when their friends come over. It’s like they’re not willing to be associated with their own parents in public.
Is that how we feel about Jesus Christ? Do we want Him to drop us off right after church on Sunday and hide all week so our friends won’t know we’re connected to Him?
Or, are we willing to let our relationship to Him show?
…and always remember Him… That’s the tricky one. Always. Wow, like always?
How do we do that?
There probably isn’t a human being alive who has this down 100%, but we can certainly make an effort to remind ourselves. We can have pictures of the Savior or other gospel messages in our rooms, in our lockers, our work stations (if permitted), or on our phones. We can choose to listen to music about sacred things often enough that the lyrics get stuck in our heads. We can pray like we mean it and hold fast to the scriptures. We can remove the distractions from our lives that crowd our thought universe and make room for the stuff that really matters.
The Lord admonished us to “Look unto [Him] in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (Doctrine & Covenants 6:36). The more we see His hand in everything we’re doing, the more we see He holds us very dear. Our doubts about the gospel of Jesus Christ will fade away when we start to recognize how it touches everything we do for our good. That recognition and that remembering are interconnected.
In Mosiah 4:11-12, we discover what exactly we should be remembering and what will come of it:
“Always retain in remembrance the greatness of God…and His goodness and long-suffering towards [us]…and humble [ourselves] even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come…and if [we] do this, [we] shall always rejoice and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of [our] sins; and [we] shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of Him who created [us], or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.”
What a great promise of blessings—not the least of which is a testimony, or knowledge, of God and all His truths!
…and keep His commandments which He hath given them… We’ll have to know the commandments in order to keep them. Scriptures and church will help. And if we look back at the complete sentence, it says we are willing to keep the commandments.
Does that mean we’ll actually do it perfectly?
Of course not. We can be willing to a lot of things that we’re not actually equipped to do. For example, I’m willing to buy my family members fancy houses if I ever become a gozillionaire, but I’m not, so I can’t. But I’m also willing to give a generous fast offering to help the needy in my area, and that’s something I can do. If the Lord sees that we’re doing what we can, that will be enough.
…that they may always have His spirit to be with them… Isn’t it awesome that the Lord holds Himself to that always standard, too? Difference being, He can do it. And He’s willing to let us have the Spirit every time we remember Him. When we consider that He is promising the companionship of the Holy Ghost—a member of the Godhead—if we can just focus our thoughts on Jesus, it’s a mind-blowing deal in our favor. We win on every count.
So, what are we doing to remember?
Hopefully, making sacrament meeting a higher mental priority can go a long way towards boosting our memory. If church attendance can become more than a social event—or an unwanted obligation—we might just find a part of our testimony grows while we’re there.
If this excerpt was uplifting to you at all, you may find the rest of the book useful, too. I’ve kept the price low for both paperback ($6) and ebook (99c), and all proceeds go to the church’s Humanitarian fund to help victims of natural disasters, etc.