Jul 12, 2013
2 min read

Thoughts on the Five Core Sacramental Symbols

There are at least five core elements that are used in the ordinance of the sacrament. Back on June 16th of this year I took down some ideas in my notebook concerning them so here they are. I will also be placing any number that I think is numerically significant next to the title.

1. Altar or Table (4, 1, 2)

  • Used for sacrifices and offerings and for sacred ordinances of the gospel (LDS BD). A place where heaven and earth are bridged via covenants.
  • Altar: Zabach (Hebrew) – “to slaughter an animal”.
  • The life of the animal is represented by its blood. (Leviticus 17:11)
  • Altars are temples in their most simple form, and the covenants made at them can vary.
  • We place things on the altar to be completely consumed, we do not expect to see them again. It is expected that all ungodliness is treated this way.

2. White cloth (1)

  • White cloth might be a substitute for fire, which is often associated with the glory or presence of God.
  • That which is covered with white cloth may be considered to be covered in God’s glory.

3. Bread (4, 5)

  • The bread is divided or “cut” in token of a covenant by the priests during the sacrament hymn; this is part of the ordinance and not just for convenience. (Handbook 2:20.4.2-3)
  • Represents the resurrected body of Christ that we may obtain as God’s gift for keeping our covenants.
  • With our teeth, we crush the bread or “body” of Christ, just as our sins crushed him.
  • The bread is digested and through nutrition, portions are absorbed by our bodies, literally becoming part of us.

4. Cup (1)

  • Represents the will of God, a token of our acceptance of that will as we drink its contents.
  • The cup represents a betrothal, a marriage between Christ and his Church of whom we are a part.
  • As Christ drank a bitter cup of sin, we drink a refreshing cup of pure water, or the fruit of the vine.

5. Wine/Water (8, 2)

Other symbolic elements

Associated with these symbols are also some important things to consider. The Aaronic priesthood and their respective duties in blessing and passing the sacrament, the presiding authority who is given the tokens first, the hymn that is sung, the prayer that is offered and many other subtle elements that we might want to ponder are all there for a reason.

Check out LDSSymbols.com for more insights.

What do you think?

  • What other things regarding the sacrament do you think are symbolic?
  • What factors help enhance your sacrament experience?
  • How does the sacrament influence your life?