Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meaningful Sacrament

                As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have the opportunity each week to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants with God.  To make this experience more meaningful, we should examine our lives carefully, ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and consider what we need to do to repent of our sins.  We do not need to be perfect in order to partake of the sacrament, but we should have a spirit of humility and repentance in our hearts.  When we place proper priority on the sacrament, it can become a source of strength as well as an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to living the gospel.

                Matthew, one of the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, shared his experience of the first sacrament:  “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
                “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
                “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28).

                Can you imagine being in the presence of our Savior as He blessed and passed the bread and water?  When I first considered this question, my thoughts were about how wonderful it would be to see the Savior and be in His presence.  Then I realized that I can have a similar experience every Sunday if I go to sacrament meeting prepared to grow spiritually.  I probably will not see the Savior, but I can feel His presence.

                 I have enjoyed many spiritual experiences during sacrament meeting.  One of the most powerful ones came as I was pondering if I would recognize the Savior and how I would act in His presence.  I was blessed with a three-second vision of myself kneeling at His feet and knew that I would recognize Him because I would feel His presence as well as see Him.

                Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that we live in the perilous times prophesied by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1 and can “be distracted, degraded, downhearted, or depressed” by the world around us.  He said that the Lord gave the answer in modern revelation when He renewed the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy.  With the Lord’s renewal, He also gave us a promise.

                “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
                “For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10.

                Sacrament meeting is the “most sacred and important meeting in the Church” because of the ordinance of the sacrament.  We can make this meeting and the ordinance more meaningful by being prepared to have a spiritual experience.  We should dress in an appropriate manner for a sacred meeting.  Elder Oaks said, “Our manner of dress indicates the degree to which we understand and honor the ordinance in which we will participate.”  We should come to the meeting with “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”  We should be seated before the meeting begins in order to listen to the prelude music and to bring our spirits in tune with the Spirit of the Lord.  Elder Oaks said that “we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others.”  (“Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament,” Ensign, November2008, pp. 17-20).  

                Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about “coming to ourselves” by the way we partake of the sacrament, participate in temple service, and sacrifice in service.  “We become converted and spiritually self-reliant as we prayerfully live our covenants – through worthily partaking of the sacrament, being worthy of a temple recommend, and sacrificing to serve others.

                “To worthily partake of the sacrament, we remember that we are renewing the covenant we made at baptism.  For the sacrament to be a spiritually cleansing experience each week, we need to prepare ourselves before coming to sacrament meeting.  We do this by deliberately leaving behind our daily work and recreation and letting go of worldly thoughts and concerns.  As we do, we make room in our minds and hearts for the Holy Ghost.

                “Then we are prepared to ponder on the Atonement.  More than just thinking about the facts of the Savior’s suffering and death, our pondering helps us to recognize that through the Savior’s sacrifice, we have the hope, opportunity, and strength to make real, heartfelt changes in our lives.

                “As we sing the sacrament hymn, participate in the sacrament prayers, and partake of the emblems of His flesh and blood, we prayerfully seek forgiveness for our sins and shortcomings.  We think about the promises we made and kept during the previous week and make specific personal commitments to follow the Savior during the coming week” (“Coming to Ourselves:  The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service,” Ensign, May 2012, pp.34-36).  

                Elder Don R. Clarke of the Quorum of the Seventy spoke about the blessings of the sacrament.  “If we properly prepare for the sacrament, we can transform our lives.  I would like to suggest five principles that can bless our lives as we partake of the sacrament worthily. 1) The first principle is to have a feeling of gratitude to Heavenly Father during the sacrament for the Atonement of His Son.  2) The second principle is to remember that we are renewing our baptismal covenants as we partake of the sacrament….  The sacramental prayers are a reminder of these covenants.  3) Thirdly, during the sacrament we can feel forgiven of our sins.  If we have spent time before sacrament meeting repenting of our sins, we can leave sacrament meeting feeling clean and pure.  4) The fourth principle is that we can receive inspiration for solutions to our problems during sacrament meeting….  As we humbly come to sacrament meeting, we can be blessed to feel impressions for solutions to our daily problems.  We must come prepared, be willing to listen, and not be distracted.  5) The fifth principle, partaking of the sacrament worthily, will help us be filled with the Holy Ghost….  The sacramental prayer also promises that if we live up to our covenants, we will always have His Spirit to be with us” (“Blessings of the Sacrament,” Ensign, November 2012, pp. 104-106).  

                I know that we can each do something to make our sacrament experiences more meaningful.  I know that we can bring more blessings into our lives by making sacrament meeting the most important part of our Sabbath Day.  I encourage you to consider what you can do to make the sacrament more meaningful to you.

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