Editor's Note: Our weekly Friday column, “Found in the Footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I always love the moments when General Authorities step away from their prepared remarks and speak something the Spirit just placed in their hearts—the moments their eyes aren’t really looking at the teleprompter but instead are looking straight at your soul.
President Russell M. Nelson had one of these moments at the 2019 Mission Leadership Seminar. He had just partaken of the sacrament, and before he began his formal message, he paused to share a message about the significance of what had just taken place:
“A thought has occurred to me that my making a covenant today is a lot more important than the message that I have prepared. I made a covenant as I partook of the sacrament that I would be willing to take upon me the name of Jesus Christ and that I am willing to obey His commandments. Often, I hear the expression that we partake of the sacrament to renew covenants made at baptism. While that’s true, it’s much more than that. I’ve made a new covenant. You have made new covenants. . . . Now in return for which He makes the statement that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. What a blessing!”
These words are found in footnote 18 of Elder Dale G. Renlund’s October 2019 conference talk, “Unwavering Commitment to Jesus Christ.”
When I think about President Nelson’s quote, I reflect on the many times I have taken the sacrament. Do I pause to think about the new covenant I am making? Am I willing to take upon me the name of Jesus Christ? At that moment, am I willing to obey His commandments?
Sister Becky Craven’s questions then come to my mind: “There is a careful way and a casual way to do everything, including living the gospel. As we consider our commitment to the Savior, are we careful or casual? . . . Are we careful in our Sabbath-day worship and in our preparation to partake of the sacrament each week?”
► You may also like: 5 Tips to Make the Sacrament More Meaningful
Every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has addressed the topic of the sacrament at least once in general conference remarks. The sacred ordinance has become an increasing focus of Church leadership over the last four years.1 While I might not have a specific way to tell you what you can do to deepen your understanding of the sacrament, perhaps these insights from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles can carry something to your heart.
President Russell M. Nelson, “Worshipping at Sacrament Meeting”
“Each member of the Church bears responsibility for the spiritual enrichment that can come from a sacrament meeting. Each should sing with a grateful heart and respond with an audible ‘amen’ at the conclusion of a prayer or a testimony. We personally ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We reflect upon the significance of His suffering at Gethsemane and His Crucifixion on Calvary. At this time, each of us is to ‘examine himself’ (1 Cor. 11:28) and reflect upon personal covenants made with the Lord. At this time, we meditate upon the sacred things of God.”
President Dallin H. Oaks, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”
“The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together. Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
President Henry B. Eyring, “Gratitude on the Sabbath Day”
“Of all the blessings we can count, the greatest by far is the feeling of forgiveness that comes as we partake of the sacrament. We will feel greater love and appreciation for the Savior, whose infinite sacrifice made possible our being cleansed from sin. As we partake of the bread and water, we remember that He suffered for us. And when we feel gratitude for what He has done for us, we will feel His love for us and our love for Him.”
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President M. Russell Ballard, “Precious Gifts from God”
“The blessing of receiving the sacrament in sacrament meeting must never become routine or just something we do. It is only 70 minutes in a whole week when we can pause and find more peace, joy, and happiness in our lives. Partaking of the sacrament and renewing our covenants is a sign by us to the Lord that we do always remember Him. His Atonement is a gracious gift from God.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Behold the Lamb of God”
“My beloved brothers and sisters, with the exciting new emphasis on increased gospel learning in the home, it is crucial for us to remember that we are still commanded to ‘go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day’ (D&C 59:9). In addition to making time for more home-centered gospel instruction, our modified Sunday service is also to reduce the complexity of the meeting schedule in a way that properly emphasizes the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as the sacred, acknowledged focal point of our weekly worship experience. We are to remember in as personal a way as possible that Christ died from a heart broken by shouldering entirely alone the sins and sorrows of the whole human family.”
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Bearers of Heavenly Light”
“Every time you turn your hearts to God in humble prayer, you experience His light. Every time you seek His word and will in the scriptures, the light grows in brightness. Every time you notice someone in need and sacrifice your own comfort to reach out in love, the light expands and swells. Every time you reject temptation and choose purity, every time you seek or extend forgiveness, every time you courageously testify of truth, the light chases away darkness and attracts others who are also seeking light and truth. Think about your own personal experiences, moments of service to God and fellowmen when divine light has shined in your life—in the holy temple, at the sacrament table, in a quiet moment of prayerful pondering, in your family gatherings, or during an act of priesthood service. Share those moments with family, friends, and especially with our youth, who are seeking light. They need to hear from you that with this light come hope and healing, even in a world full of darkness.”
Elder David A. Bednar “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us”
“We also invite the ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost as we worthily partake of the sacrament each Sabbath day: ‘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’ (D&C 59:9). Through the ordinance of the sacrament we renew our baptismal covenant and can receive and retain a remission of our sins (see Mosiah 4:12, 26). In addition, we are reminded on a weekly basis of the promise that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. As we then strive to keep ourselves clean and unspotted from the world, we become worthy vessels in whom the Spirit of the Lord can always dwell.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Foundations of Faith”
“Just as repetition and consistent effort are required to gain physical or mental capacity, the same is true in spiritual matters. Remember that the Prophet Joseph received the same visitor, Moroni, with exactly the same message four times in preparation for receiving the plates. I believe that weekly participation in sacred sacrament meetings has spiritual implications we do not fully understand.”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “The Living Bread Which Came Down from Heaven”
“The symbolism of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is beautiful to contemplate. The bread and water represent the flesh and blood of Him who is the Bread of Life and the Living Water (see John 4:10), poignantly reminding us of the price He paid to redeem us. As the bread is broken, we remember the Savior’s torn flesh. Elder Dallin H. Oaks once observed that ‘because it is broken and torn, each piece of bread is unique, just as the individuals who partake of it are unique. We all have different sins to repent of. We all have different needs to be strengthened through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we remember in this ordinance.’ As we drink the water, we think of the blood He shed in Gethsemane and on the cross and its sanctifying power (see Moses 6:60). Knowing that ‘no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom,’ we resolve to be among ‘those who have washed their garments in [the Savior’s] blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end’” (3 Nephi 27:19).
Elder Neil L. Andersen, “Thy Kingdom Come”
“We have taken His name upon us, and each week as we partake of the sacrament, we pledge that we will remember Him and keep His commandments. We are far from perfect, but we are not casual in our faith. We believe in Him. We worship Him. We follow Him. We deeply love Him. His cause is the greatest cause in all the world.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband, “Standing by Our Promises and Covenants”
“When we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant to take upon us His name and make additional promises to improve. Our daily thoughts and actions, both large and small, reflect our commitment to Him. His sacred promise in return is ‘If ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you’” (3 Nephi 18:7).
Elder Gary E. Stevenson, “Your Four Minutes”
“In the same way that certain steps are essential in the very brief performance of an Olympic athlete—jumps or maneuvers for ice skaters and snowboarders, negotiating the turns of a bobsled run, or carving through the gates of a downhill slalom course—so it is in our lives, where certain things are absolutely essential—checkpoints which move us through our spiritual performance on earth. These spiritual markers are the essential God-given ordinances of the gospel: baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood ordinations, temple ordinances, and partaking of the sacrament each week. ‘In the[se] ordinances . . . the power of godliness is manifest’” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:20).
Elder Dale G. Renlund, “That I Might Draw All Men unto Me”
“To draw closer to the Savior, we must increase our faith in Him, make and keep covenants, and have the Holy Ghost with us. We must also act in faith, responding to the spiritual direction we receive. All of these elements come together in the sacrament. Indeed, the best way I know of to draw closer to God is to prepare conscientiously and partake worthily of the sacrament each week.”
Elder Gerrit W. Gong, "Always Remember Him"
“Each week, in partaking of the sacrament, we covenant to always remember Him. Drawing on the nearly 400 scripture references to the word remember, here are six ways we can always remember Him.”
- “We can always remember Him by having confidence in His covenants, promises, and assurances.”
- “We can always remember Him by gratefully acknowledging His hand throughout our lives.”
- “We can always remember Him by trusting when the Lord assures us, ‘He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42).
- "He invites us to remember that He is always welcoming us home."
- “We can always remember Him on the Sabbath through the sacrament.”
- “Our Savior invites us to always remember Him as He always remembers us.”
Elder Ulisses Soares, “Take Up Our Cross”
“The scriptures teach that there is a way out of these situations—by inviting our Savior to help us to replace our stony hearts with new hearts. For this to happen, we need to come before the Lord with our weaknesses and implore His help and forgiveness, especially during the sacred moment when we partake of the sacrament each Sunday. May we choose to seek His help and take an important and difficult step by forgiving those who have hurt us so that our wounds may begin to heal. I promise you that in your doing so, your nights will be full of the relief that comes from a mind at peace with the Lord.”
Often our experiences during the sacrament service seem quite ordinary. However, partaking of the sacrament is one of the most important and sacred ordinances in which we can participate. The sacrament is a weekly invitation to once again come unto Christ through the sin-remitting, soul-transforming power that can come when we “eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely.” The moments we spend with Him each week in the spirit of repentance and re-commitment can bring consolation, encouragement, forgiveness, and hope. In this inspiring book, respected Latter-Day Saint authors give their thoughts on how we can get more from the sacrament. Available now at deseretbook.com.
1. In Elder Quentin L. Cook’s October 2018 remarks, he said, Honoring the Sabbath day and the sacred ordinance of the sacrament has again been emphasized for the last three years.