Recently I attended the Third Annual BYU New Testament Commentary Conference. Of particular interest was a speech by Richard D. Draper on the importance and significance of the sacrament.
After the conference I began to ask myself how can the repeated personal ordinance of the sacrament change me? My life changed when I realized that it was Christ offering me emblems of repentance, love and grace during the LDS sacrament each week. Here are 8 ways to remember the Savior and His atonement every day!
Incorporate Hymns into Personal Study
“The administration and passing of the sacrament is preceded by a hymn which all of us should sing. It doesn’t matter what kind of musical voice we have. Sacramental hymns are more like prayers anyway—and everyone can give voice to a prayer!”- Elder Jeffery R. Holland
The words of hymns are powerful and meant to teach us doctrinal principles. Use them throughout the week to think of the Savior.
“Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith,…Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment” (First Presidency Preface to the Hymns).
Music in a very real sense is tied to memory and remembering. Concetta Tomaino, the founder of the Institute of Music and Neurological Function says that “We now know from clinical case studies that music can affect—in very speciﬁc ways—human neurological, psychological, and physical functioning in areas such as learning, processing language, expressing emotion, memory, and physiological and motor responses.”
To Do: During the sacrament read the hymns and focus on their meaning. Don’t stop there! Reread them for personal study. You may even want to memorize a hymn so that it may be used during times of temptation or trial. Let the words of the hymns become your own.
Remember Your Covenants
“We enter into covenants by priesthood ordinances, sacred rituals that God has ordained for us to manifest our commitment.”-Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Ponder what it would have been like to be sitting at the table in the upper room on the night the Sacrament was instituted. What tender feelings would have been there as you sat near the Savior? I think of the sacrament as a time to celebrate and renew all our covenants.
Like the gathering held on that special evening, the sacred moments of the sacrament should be times of renewal, gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift of being able to make covenants. Rejoice in, respect, and remember your covenants each day of the week.
During a devotional at Brigham Young University-Hawaii Elder Donald L. Hallstrom said, “On this very day, a renewed promise can be made by each of us to be true to the sacred covenants of our life.”
To Do: Place a sticky note in a visible location and write the words “remember your covenants” so that you will be reminded daily.
Ponder on and Share Your Testimony of Jesus Christ
“Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you” (Doctrine and Covenants 62:3).
Recently a friend told me that in order to focus on the Savior during the sacrament she had the habit of recording her testimony. Adapt this practice as a part of your personal worship.
- Don’t let this be the only time you reflect on your testimony.
- Throughout the week reread what you have written.
- Strive to see what areas of your testimony may need some work
- Conscientiously seek to improve day to day and moment to moment.
- Openly sharing your testimony through actions, words and lifestyle is a great way to keep the command to take His name upon us and always remember Him.
To Do: Prayerfully consider who needs to hear a portion of your testimony. When prompted by the Spirit, sincerely share your feelings of the Savior and His atonement.
See the Unity of the Sacrament
Saints should have their hearts knit together in unity (Mosiah 18:21).
John S. Tanner says that the words “We ask thee” are significant and suggests that “The sacrament is communal. We partake of it along with others who are united with us by shared baptismal covenants and by the mutual need to repent and recommit. To partake of the sacrament is to formally participate in fellowship with the Saints.”
Tanner also suggests the following: “Reminding us weekly of our need to foster charity toward our fellow Saints, the sacrament can be a great force for unity in our congregations. United under the plural pronoun, we all equally need the Lord’s Spirit and pardon: ‘we ask thee.’”
Richard D. Draper spoke about the significance of the one loaf being used during the sacrament. As he spoke, I thought about how the one loaf could remind us that Christ wants us to be unified as a congregation. Draper said that , “συνερχόμενοι (synerchomenoi),“coming together,” points to the purpose of the meeting…the sharing of a common meal as a church in which the participants partake of the sacrament.”
This idea reminds me of the universality of the atonement. I find it beautiful that all church members around the world partake of bread and water and hear the same prayers spoken in their own language. This transcends geographical, ethnic or social boundaries and symbolizes that Christ gave His life a ransom for all mankind. We are unified in Christ.
To Do: Ponder about each word in the sacrament prayers. Record your feelings in a study journal.
Think of Others that Need Help
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
How can the sacrament be a personal experience, while also being a time where I can turn outward and remember those around me?
The scripture above was spoken in the first sacrament service and were instructions given by the Lord to His disciples on the eve of the atonement. These words should be the mantra of our lives and the focal point of our days. Not only can we look inward and reflect during the sacrament but we may also use this weekly ordinance as a way to look outward and find ways to serve.
Acting as He would act and serving as He would serve seems to be one if the best ways to take upon us His name. Not only can we receive inspiration from the Spirit but we can actively look around us and find opportunities to serve. Doing so can increase our closeness and testimony of Jesus.
To Do: Ponder about whom you can serve during the week. After setting goals make plans to lift another person’s burden.
Stay Connected for One Hour
“Could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40).
We can show the Lord how much we love Him by the attention we show during the sacrament. Staying focused and attentive during the meeting is a great way to show our love. This should not be the only time we think of Christ. When was the last time you thought of the Savior?
Time.com recently reported, “The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.”
During a speech at Brigham Young University, Gordon B. Lindsay said, “In your average day, how many times do you remember Him? In other words, if I could be with you at the end of the day and download your mental files to examine what you have thought about during the last 24 hours, how many times would I find that you specifically, deliberately, deeply thought about the Lord Jesus Christ?”
To Do: Make goals for how you will be more concentrated and consecrated during sacrament meeting.
Continue to Seek for Spiritual Nourishment Everyday
“We no longer include a supper with this ordinance, but it is a feast nevertheless.”- Elder Jeffery R. Holland
Each week we partake of a tiny piece of bread and a small cup of water. Although small in size, their symbolism is beautifully grand. For me these emblems represent that I’m coming to the sacrament table not to partake of bread and water alone but rather remind me that I’m participating in a spiritual feast.
Remember that the sacrament can be one of the greatest times to receive personal revelation. Likewise, throughout the week we can satiate our spiritual hunger as we ponder and feel the word of God each day. Doing so will enable us to be filled by the Holy Ghost.
Paul B. Pixton wrote, “The sermon that Jesus delivered on the topic of the ‘bread of life’ in the Gospel of John draws on the symbolism of the Lord himself as ‘the living bread which came down from heaven.’ It also prefigures the ordinance of the Sacrament that he initiated later as a reminder to all that salvation comes only through “the living bread” and the “living water” (John 6: 48-58).
To Do: Feast upon the word of God by asking questions and searching for the answers in the scriptures. In addition to your studies, have personal conversations with your Heavenly Father through meaningful prayer.
Look in the Mirror and Remember the Savior’s Atonement
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Each day as you look in the mirror, know that your life is a gift bought by Jesus Christ. All that you are becoming ties back to the Savior’s grace, mercy and love. Remember to love yourself and see yourself the way He views you.
Have moments of quiet reflection each day where you can evaluate how well you are using your time. Consider the path you are on and make necessary changes each and every day by using the atonement!
To Do: The Book of Mormon asks us this introspective question “..can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” (Alma 5:19). Ask yourself this question next time you look in the mirror, and then make the changes necessary to be more like Heavenly Father and our Savior.
Always Remember Him
“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God” (Mosiah 4:11).
The mind is such a fleeting mechanism and yet God has given us the command to remember Him. The most important obligation is for us to remember, yet we each forgot everything about the pre-existence when we came to earth. A loving God is continually giving us quiet solicitations from the Spirit, whose purpose is to “bring all things to our remembrance (John 14:26).
The purest kind of love is manifest in the attention we show towards something or someone. In the case of our Heavenly Father, He pleads for our attention and for us to remember Him and His perfect son.
By our attention we manifest our love, and because we love, we remember. When our attention is fixed on Christ, we are not easily swayed or distracted but are instead perfected by His example and teachings.
We are commanded to always remember Him. When we chose to have Him become the focal point of our lives, we can be freed from the sorrows of remembering the past and the fears of facing tomorrow. Our perfect judge promises to remember our sins no more and therefore I will always remember Him.
“Since that upper room experience on the eve of Gethsemane and Golgotha, children of the promise have been under covenant to remember Christ’s sacrifice in this newer, higher, more holy and personal way.” – Elder Jeffery R. Holland
To Do: Make a consistent effort to think of Jesus Christ every single day. Record in your journal the ways you see the hand of the Lord .
What have you done to make your sacrament experience more meaningful? What ways have you found to remember Christ throughout the entire week? Comment Below.