Sacrament

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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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We Witness His Resurrection Every Seventh Day

Every Sabbath day, we witness the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Symbols of his body and blood rest on trays between white linens in a manner that resembles an actual body. When the ordinance begins, the white linens are drawn back and his body rises from the altar (table). The tokens of his body and blood travel out into the congregation and are placed before every individual member.

With our hand, we reach, grasp, lift and partake. We witness that we are willing to take the name of Christ upon us, to keep his commandments and always remember him. We take all this into our inner-most places, our minds, our hearts, and even our bowels (the seat of compassion).

The bread and wine (water) first enter our mouth on their journey and pass by our mind, then down our throat passing our heart, and then reach the bowels where they are absorbed into our entire bodies as nourishment. These tokens literally become part of us, transforming us; implying something much more profound.

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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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An Experience With Homemade Sacrament Bread by Sandra Clark Jergensen

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

bread

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?

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Symbols of the Sacrament

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