While priests and scribes plotted his death, Jesus gathered his disciples together for a final time. Gethsemane—and then Calvary—were just hours away. Soon his followers would be left to face a world hostile to their faith. They would face the challenge of keeping that faith without his daily presence to strengthen them. As the years went by, they would need to remember that the Savior had given his life for them. They would need to recall and keep the Lord’s commandments so that they could live with him eternally.
To those gathered at the Last Supper—and to all who would later call themselves his disciples—the Savior gave a gift. That gift is the sacrament, and it is a weekly reminder of the Savior’s teachings and atonement. Through it, we can have the Lord’s Spirit with us during this lonely time when he is not with us on earth.
The bread and water remind us of the Savior’s flesh and blood, which he sacrificed to atone for our sins. By eating and drinking these emblems, we are invited to remember his love and suffering for us. We are given the opportunity to renew the sacred promises we made at baptism. As we partake, we covenant anew to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and to honor that name by being identified with him, his name, his Church, and his teachings, and by living his gospel.
As we thus invite the Savior into our thoughts and into our hearts, we may reexperience the spiritual cleansing we felt at baptism. Like children, who meet each new day with fresh enthusiasm, we can begin each week unburdened by our sins and errors.
We can also receive the promised blessing of having the Holy Spirit with us always. One woman who did not participate in the Church for a number of years longed to feel closer to the Savior. But it was not until she returned to church and took the sacrament that she felt joy and peace. Then the promise of the Holy Spirit became a sweet reality to her.
How can the sacrament help us overcome our sins and draw closer to the Lord?
In one sacrament meeting, a young priest had to repeat the sacrament prayer four times. This motivated one sister to think more deeply about the sacrament. After the meeting, she sought the young man out and said, “The first three times I wasn’t ready. But the fourth time, I was ready, and I’ve had one of the most meaningful experiences in partaking of the sacrament that I’ve had in a long time.”
Each Sunday, one young mother reads to her children a passage of scripture about the Savior. She tells them about a personal quality of the Savior that they can emulate. Then she encourages the children to think during the sacrament about Jesus and the character trait they hope to duplicate in their own lives.
It is important that we prepare for the sacrament. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect before we partake of the sacrament, but we must be doing the very best we can to have our hearts and actions right. We can do this by repenting of our sins so that we may partake worthily. And while the sacrament is being passed, we can ponder our baptismal covenants, perhaps reading a scriptural passage like Mosiah 18:8–11. As we contemplate the Savior’s atonement for us, we can look for ways to improve our lives and rededicate ourselves to his service.
How can you prepare to partake of the sacrament more thoughtfully?