Nothing seems more basic in our worship of the Lord than learning to partake of the sacrament meaningfully. We teach our children to partake before they learn to speak. We also need to teach them what the sacrament means to them personally. As you and your family evaluate your experiences in partaking of the sacrament, consider the following:
Do I think about the words of the sacrament hymn?
Do I listen to the sacrament prayers?
Do I remember that Jesus suffered and died for me?
Do I feel sorry for mistakes I have made?
Do I promise to do better?
In what way can I improve?
The manner in which the sacrament is administered is prescribed by scripture, but the way in which we receive it should not simply be habitual or mechanical, but an individual, heartfelt act of renewal and recommitment to serve the Lord. Encourage each member of your family to rediscover a reverence for the sacrament and what it can mean in his life. (See chapter 23, “The Sacrament,” Gospel Principles , pp. 150–56.)
Make family assignments for presenting the pictures and information in the lesson.
“Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” (Hymns, no. 141).
“I Stand All Amazed” (Hymns, no. 193).
“To Think about Jesus” (Children’s Songbook, p. 71).
Without explanation, show a picture of Jesus, and allow your family to identify him by asking such questions as—
Who does this picture represent?
Where did you learn about him?
Why is Jesus, who lived two thousand years ago, so important that we are taught about him today?
Why is his death so significant?
Why is Christ important to our family?
What did Jesus say of himself? (Have someone read John 8:12 aloud.)
What did our Heavenly Father say about his Son, Jesus Christ? (Have someone read John 3:16.)
Explain that during his three-year ministry on earth, Jesus clearly marked the path we should follow. He taught by example and word how people should behave and what attitudes they should develop. His was a life of love and service to others. He taught that the two great commandments were to love the Lord above all else and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Who are our neighbors? (Our brothers, sisters, parents, relatives, friends, and enemies.)
Show the picture of the Last Supper, accompanying the lesson, and discuss with the family the last few hours of our Savior’s life.
Who are the men in the picture?
Why are they gathered together?
Briefly tell the story of the Last Supper:
On the day of the feast of the Passover, Jesus sent two of his Apostles into Jerusalem to arrange for the feast. They prepared a room where they could be together.
This was the last time Jesus would meet with his beloved Apostles before his death. He served them in love. He knelt before them and washed and dried the feet of each of his disciples. He even washed the feet of Judas, whom he knew would turn against him.
During the evening, he told his Apostles that one of them would betray him. When Judas had left the gathering, as if on an errand for the Savior, Jesus tried to strengthen the others by giving them what he called “a new commandment.” He commanded, “Love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34). He explained, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). He comforted them by saying that he would send the Holy Ghost to be with them, to strengthen and guide them.
Jesus tried to tell them that he would soon leave them, but they did not understand. Desiring that they remember him and keep his commandments, he introduced the sacrament. He broke bread and blessed it and passed it among his disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).
Next he took a cup of wine, blessed it, and gave it to his Apostles to drink. He said:
“Drink ye all of it;
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:27–28; see also the Joseph Smith Translation in the footnotes of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible.)
Do you suppose they thought, “We will remember”?
Matthew, one of the Apostles present on that sacred occasion, wrote that after the supper and the sacrament, Jesus and his Apostles sang a hymn. Then they went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Have the assigned family members show and explain the pictures in the following order:
Jesus in Gethsemane
Jesus on the way to Calvary
Jesus buried in the tomb
As family members show and discuss the pictures, remind them that each scene suggests that Jesus loved them and was willing to endure great pain and death so that they could live in Heavenly Father’s presence.
How do you think the Apostles felt about the last evening they spent with the Savior after his death and resurrection?
What difference do you think it made to the Apostles in the way they viewed their promise to remember him after they had watched his arrest, his trial, his crucifixion, his death, and finally his resurrection?
Did the Apostles have opportunity to partake of the sacrament again?
Explain that just as the Savior wanted his Apostles to partake of the sacrament to remember him, so he wants us to remember his love, his teachings, his sacrifice for us.
How does the knowledge that the Savior gave his life for you make a difference in the way you feel about the sacrament?
How can this knowledge help you control your thoughts and renew your commitment to remember the Lord?
Suggest to the family that before their next sacrament meeting they review their actions since the last time they partook of the sacrament. Challenge them to think seriously about how they can remember Jesus while they partake of the sacrament at the next sacrament meeting. After the sacrament meeting, discuss your feelings and thoughts and determine if this reminder helped.
Close your home evening by singing or reading the words to “I Stand All Amazed” (Hymns, no. 193).
As you display the picture of the Last Supper, ask the children which man is Jesus. They will probably know. They also may know that the other men are Jesus’ Apostles. Ask them to tell what the men are doing.
Explain that Jesus knew he was going to die and that he wanted his friends to remember him and do the things he had taught them, so he gave them the sacrament.
Help the children understand that this ordinance has meaning, otherwise they might think of it simply as a treat during church. Explain that the sacrament is given to help us remember Jesus’ love for us and to help us do the things he wants us to do.
To apply this lesson and impress it on their minds, display a picture of Jesus by the place where you eat your meals. Then, Sunday morning during breakfast, suggest that the family talk about Jesus. Each child could tell one thing about Jesus, something the Savior did while he was here on earth. Then have each child tell something Jesus wants us to do. Remind the children that they will be taking the sacrament in sacrament meeting.
What can you think about during the sacrament? (They may suggest thinking about their favorite story of Jesus or about something they can do to make someone happy.)
As you travel to your meeting, you could ask the children to sing a song about Jesus to help you remember what you should be thinking about during the sacrament.
Perhaps each child could paste a small picture of Jesus on a piece of construction paper. Help him write, “I will think of Jesus” on it. Let the children take them to church to look at while the sacrament is passed.
As you return home after the meeting, ask each child to tell what he thought about during the sacrament. Begin by telling what you were thinking. Praise the efforts of the children. Do not chide them if they occasionally forget. Encourage them to keep trying.
Instead of just telling the story of the Last Supper, read the scriptures. Compare the four gospels, emphasizing what each one adds to the account (see Matthew 26:26–29, Mark 14:22–25, Luke 22:17–20, John 6:50–65).
If you have the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, read the footnotes that give the Joseph Smith Translation of the passages. They add special insights that you may want to discuss.
Review with your family the pictures and discussion at the end of the lesson.
Also discuss with family members the special meanings associated with the two parts of the sacrament. The bread is in remembrance of his body, which broke the bands of death so that each of us might also be resurrected. The water is in remembrance of his blood with which he bought for us redemption from our sins if we repent. Discuss with family members how they can better remember during the passing of the sacrament by reviewing in their minds the sacrifice of the Savior, by giving silent prayers of thanksgiving, and recommitting to keep his commandments.
Teenagers and adults will want to do something to improve their appreciation of the sacrament. The application in the regular lesson could be helpful. (See the section “We Will Remember and Renew Our Covenants” in the lesson.)
The sacrament is partaken in remembrance of the Savior. Spend an evening learning about the Savior.
Encourage older children and adults to read and discuss the gospels or chapter 11, “The Life of Christ,” in Gospel Principles, pages 61 through 69. Explain that this will help them partake of the sacrament more meaningfully.
Ask family members to suggest ways they can remember the Savior in their daily lives. Discuss how they can show that they remember the Savior through their daily behavior, the choices they make, the language they use, and how they treat each other and their friends.
Make a chart with the names of family members down the left side and “I Remembered” written across the top. During the coming week, each time that a family member reports an example of remembering the Savior, he places a star or other marker after his name.
Have someone read or recite the sacramental prayers (D&C 20:77–79). Discuss the promises we make when we take the sacrament.
For young children, write these promises on wordstrips to display under a picture of the Savior as each promise is discussed (for example, “Take his name upon us,” “Keep his commandments,” or “Always remember him”).
Discuss also the promise God makes to us if we are worthy. Explain that he will give us his Spirit.
Relate these prayers and promises to the covenants made at baptism.
You may want to arrange to have this lesson follow one on baptism.
Help your family to think seriously about taking the sacrament worthily. Have someone read Mormon 9:29, followed by 1 Corinthians 11:28–30. Discuss chat these scriptures mean. Have each family member suggest activities and ways he can prepare himself for taking the sacrament worthily. Encourage family members to set up a plan and follow it.
Hymns are an important part of the sacrament service. Have the family sing some of the sacrament hymns found in Hymns: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family members will profit from this by learning the words and learning to appreciate both the songs and the inspiration of the Savior’s life and mission. Following are some suggested hymns:
Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles who was present during the Last Supper (see the picture on page 58), writes that after the supper and sacrament, Jesus and his Apostles sang a hymn (see Matthew 26:30).
Why did Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn?
A hymn may also be a psalm. There are one hundred fifty psalms in the Old Testament. Possibly Jesus and his disciples sang an Old Testament psalm as an indication to God that they praised his name, desired to do his will, and sought guidance to fulfill the mission before them.
Matthew provided a vivid account of what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. Read Matthew 26:34–44.
Jesus asked Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40).
Could this question also apply to persons whose minds are not on the sacrament while it is being passed?
Jesus was betrayed, taken by soldiers, and subjected to several trials. He was beaten and spit upon. A crown of thorns was placed upon his head. The Gospel of John states, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17).
Why did Jesus submit to the trials, the beatings, and the Crucifixion? (Jesus had committed himself to fulfill a mission. His submission was an act of love for the Father and for us.)
Could Jesus have spared himself from the sufferings and death imposed by his persecutors? (Yes. He said that he could have prayed to the Father and received more than twelve legions of angels to help him [see Matthew 26:52–54]. Also, he made it clear that no man could take his life from him, but rather he was giving his life himself [see John 10:18].)
Read the following scripture, and show the bottom picture on page 61:
“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. …
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:33–34.)
What do we learn about Jesus when we consider this statement, which he made while his persecutors were putting him to death? (We learn that he had love, even for those who were ignorant and wicked.)
How does this make you feel?
When Jesus died on the cross that Friday many centuries ago, Joseph of Arimathaea and other disciples prepared his body and laid it in Joseph’s sepulcher (see John 19:38–42).
How do you think Joseph of Arimathaea and the others who loved Jesus felt as they took Jesus down from the cross?
Have the family express themselves freely, revealing how they themselves might have felt.
Jesus had power to take his body up again. He was resurrected and rose from the dead the next Sunday morning, the first day of the week. He was the first person to be resurrected, and he made it possible for all of us to someday be resurrected.
Read the following scripture:
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Does everyone who comes to this earth have to die? (Yes.)
Do we have to believe in Adam for this to happen to us? (No.)
Will all of us be resurrected? (Yes.)
Do we have to believe in Christ to be resurrected? (No.)
Explain that the Savior freely gave this gift of the Resurrection to all the children of our Heavenly Father. Have each family member express how he feels about this great gift.