Ordinances

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The Sacrament and Covenant Renewal

The title “renewing our baptismal covenants” is not found in the scriptures. It’s not inappropriate. Many of you have used it in talks; we have used it in talks. But it is not something that is used in the scriptures, and it can’t be the keynote of what we say about the sacrament. … The sacrament is a beautiful time to not just renew our baptismal covenant, but to commit to Him to renew all our covenants, all our promises, and to approach Him in a spiritual power that we did not have previously as we move forward.” – Neil L. Andersen, “Witnessing to Live the Commandments,” General Conference Leadership Training on the Sabbath Day Observance at Church (April 2015)

I’ve seen this quote circulating online for a while now. I remember the first time I heard it was on video and it was very refreshing since the phrase “renewing baptismal covenants” in relation to the sacrament always bothered me. Why? Well, to me it feels like we are cheapening the ordinance like our covenant is a subscription like Netflix and we have to keep renewing it. Maybe there is an apt comparison there somewhere, but when we read about the sacrament in scripture, there is no talk of renewing covenants in this manner.

Jesus asks his followers to always remember him by partaking of his flesh and blood always, which is what we do every Sabbath day. When we partake of the flesh and blood of Christ, we are not renewing a covenant; we are keeping a commandment to always remember Him.

But what about the rest of Elder Andersen’s quote? He says that we don’t just consider the sacrament a renewal of baptismal covenants alone but a renewal of “all our covenants and promises.” Again, I’m not trying to argue with Elder Andersen but let’s look at the things that characterize the sacrament according to when the Savior first instituted it among the Nephites:

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Personalizing the Sacrament Prayers

O God, my Eternal Father, I ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to my soul as I partake of it; for I eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that I am willing to take upon myself the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given me, that I may always have his Spirit to be with me. Amen.

O God, my Eternal Father, I ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this water to my soul as I drink of it, for I do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for me; that I may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that I do always remember him, that I may have his Spirit to be with me. Amen.

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Ordinances are simulated experiences

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Natural experience and trials all give us opportunities to develop the character of deity within ourselves, to experience a change of mind, and to gain greater insights into our reality.

While each of us may not experience the same things in life, ordinances provide simulated experiences that are designed to point us to a common destination; to prepare us for future realities that the ordinances only symbolize.

We are thus symbolically reborn, recreated, resurrected, washed, anointed, cast out of Eden, instructed by heavenly messengers, and sealed to one another. We are given a chance to experience a small taste of specific, unique experiences that are critical to our progression.

In this light, it makes perfect sense to speak of baptism, for instance, as a “gate by which [we] should enter” (2 Nephi 31:17).

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Keep the Temple Sacred, but Don’t Keep it Secret – by J Washburn

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The following is a guest-post from J Washburn:

In December of 2012, I toured the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Washington D.C. (thanks to having recently read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol).

Our guide led us upward through that Masonic tower, telling us cool facts about each room—one of which was a replica of the Masonic hall Washington himself presided in. I tried to get our guide to tell us about the hidden parts, but she had a pretty good excuse not to: “I’m not a Mason, and couldn’t be if I wanted to—it’s for males only. So I’ll tell you as much as I know, but I’m an outsider just like all of you.” And then she’d try to answer my questions, but it was never enough.Read Full Post

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Karate Kid Perspective on Ordinances

For those who have seen the original Karate Kid movie you’re probably familiar with the famous “wax on, wax off” lesson that Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel. I like the updated version of this lesson presented in the new Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan. You might be wondering what this has to do with ordinances – bear with me.

In the first scene, Dre (updated Daniel) enthusiastically approaches Mr. Han (updated Miyagi) and begins by trying to show Mr. Han how “good” he is and what “skills” he already possesses. Go ahead and watch this first clip:

Do we approach God thinking that we have it all figured out? Are we overly-impressed with our own wisdom and skill like Dre who felt like he had to validate himself somehow to Mr. Han? There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that I think is related to this idea:

“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:42)

It is easier to fill an empty vessel than a full one. Are we willing to make ourselves that vulnerable? Are we willing to sell all that we have acquired for the pearl of great price?

Dre thinks that Mr. Han is going to show him all these incredible kung fu moves, but Mr. Han has him do a seemly mundane task over and over again. Dre responds almost immediately with frustration, Read Full Post

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An Experience With Homemade Sacrament Bread by Sandra Clark Jergensen

By Sandra Clark Jergensen, originally posted under the title “Bread” at Segullah.org.

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Last Sunday, as I was sliding into a pew in time for sacrament meeting, one of the ward leaders motioned me over. Did I have any bread at home? Well, do they say ya’ll in Texas? Of course I did, I always do. There was no bread for the sacrament, and could I run home and get some? I did. I rushed home, grabbed the loaf in the cupboard and got back to the church with my bread. That loaf was one of my prized recipes, a 100% whole wheat loaf made with wheat that I ground and buttermilk I cultured myself. And because I don’t have a grinder, I am currently using my blender and sieve; it takes a little extra time, but how else am I to use the small silo of wheat in my house? It is good bread. And good bread is worth it to me. And oh, I do so love good bread. The crackly crust and chewy crumb of a perfect loaf is heaven to me.

I can’t extend that same love to all bread. It may seem sacrilege that even think of it, but the often cheap, plastic-sleeved bread typically brought in each week for the sacrament at church is hard for me to swallow. The token to remember Christ is most often chemically preserved, bleached and bromated bread, and a bit of a distraction for me. I have to choose to stop thinking about it—is that bad? I know what D&C 27:2 says, but I still feel that when it is something that has substance in my life, shouldn’t the bread that symbolized it have some as well? Should the bread we use for the sacrament matter; or am I overthinking this one?

Back to that Sabbath morning. I got back to church Read Full Post

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Symbols of the Sacrament

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