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A New Way to Look at the Sacrament That Will Deepen Your Understanding of Covenants and Atonement

With the announcement of the new meeting schedule, it is more important than ever that the sacrament become a pivotal point in our weekly devotion.  I share this Pondering in the hope of deepening our sacrament worship. It is based on notes for a talk I gave in a sacrament meeting a couple months ago in Mongolia.

Today I have already borne my testimony in sacrament meeting. So have you. We bear our testimony in every sacrament meeting and not only on Fast Sunday. That’s because when we partake of the sacrament, we bear solemn testimony to God of our commitment to follow Christ. Hence, every sacrament meeting is also a testimony meeting.

This is the implication of what the Savior taught the Nephites about the sacrament.  Jesus said, “And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you.  And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me” (3 Ne. 18:7).   When I partake of the sacrament, I try to remember that, in doing so, I am bearing testimony unto the Father.  This has greatly enriched and deepened the impact of the ordinance for me.

Note that nothing is said in the prayers, or elsewhere in scripture, about the sacrament as a renewal of a previous covenant made at baptism. To be sure, the covenants we make in these ordinances overlap.  However, perhaps we diminish the power and meaning of the sacrament if we think of it primarily as a renewal of a past commitment rather than a present-tense, whole-hearted testimony or covenant with God here and now!  For me, at least, the ordinance becomes more powerful as I regard it as my testimony unto God in the present. 

To help me be present in the sacrament, I like to say quietly to myself as I eat the bread and drink the water, “I do always remember.”  Doing so reminds me that I am testifying unto the Father of my commitment to follow Christ.  I am not just dusting off old promises.  I am witnessing again, in present-tense language, to always remember Christ by keeping His commandments.

I am struck by the present-tense language in the prayers.  In the prayer on the bread, we ask, we partake, we eat, we witness, we are willing, we always remember, we keep his commandments.  The prayer on the water adds an emphatic “do” to the promise to remember: we “do always remember.”  The prayers thus invite us to be present in the ordinance; not just to remember or re-make but to actively make a covenant with the Lord. 

Even the language of remembering in the sacrament prayer is not simply backward looking.  Yes, the sacrament powerfully points our minds back to Jesus’s great atoning sacrifice as we remember the body and blood.  But it also invites us to remember by being willing to take Christ’s name upon us and keep His commandments now and in the future. It is a personal witness or testimony to God that I “do remember” by doing.

So, sacrament meeting is also a testimony meeting.  It is a time to offer sacred and solemn testimony unto the Father that we remember Christ.  It is a time to covenant with God, not just remember a covenant that we made often many years ago.  The sacrament points our minds not only back to Gethsemane and the cross, but also firmly upon our willingness, now and always, to take the Savior’s name upon us and to keep His commandments.

As the Atonement is a testimony of God’s love for us, the sacrament is a testimony of our love for Him. As we wholeheartedly bear this testimony through the sacrament, every sacrament meeting becomes a sacred testimony meeting.

Lead image from Newsroom
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