On a typical Sunday morning, you may find yourself hurrying to get ready for church, trying to decide what to wear, and feeling worn out and tired from a busy and late Saturday night. Sometimes you may even wonder if you want to attend church at all. On such mornings, perhaps it would be wise to consider several important questions.
First, why should I go to sacrament meeting? The answer is simply that it is a commandment. In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn that “it is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of the bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (D&C 20:75). Of course, the bread and wine refer symbolically to when the Savior instituted the sacrament with His Apostles while He was on the earth. Modern revelation allows us to partake of bread and water (see D&C 27:2 and the introduction to Section 27).
Our primary purpose in attending sacrament meeting is to partake of the sacrament. We certainly can and should enjoy our fellowship with other Church members, but that is not the central role of sacrament meeting in the lives of Latter-day Saints.
Since attending sacrament meeting to participate in the sacrament is so important, how can you be prepared for this sacred ordinance?
To dash in to the meeting at the last minute or even after the sacrament has been passed defeats the purpose of being there. If you were playing in a ball game or going to a special dance, would you go to the event after it started? Would you expect the coach to put you into a game if you missed the first quarter? Would you wear a basketball uniform to a football game?
Naturally, the answer to these questions is a resounding “No way!” Why then would we not be on time to participate in something the Lord has commanded? Why would we not dress appropriately to be in tune with what He wants us to do? The sacrament has eternal significance. Ball games and dances come and go. They mean so much at the time, but in the long run, they just become part of our memories.
Here is a suggestion. If your meeting schedule allows it, plan to be at least 10 minutes early for sacrament meeting. This is the same counsel your priesthood leaders are given. Encourage family members to be ready to go with you. Find a place to sit together. Dress in neat and clean clothes, your Sunday best. Next, listen quietly and thoughtfully to the prelude music. President Boyd K. Packer has said that music invites reverence, and reverence invites revelation.1 In this process you become ready to listen to the Spirit and to hear with spiritual ears and see with spiritual eyes the things the Lord would want you to see and hear. Now you are ready to spiritually participate in sacrament meeting and partake of the Lord’s sacrament.
Why do we partake of the sacrament?
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught that the sacrament bears record of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. We partake “in remembrance of this great act of infinite love. … Those who profess his name show their gratitude … by observing this holy ordinance.”2 We come to understand that participating in the sacrament is just as important as any other ordinance, such as baptism or receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Taking the sacrament also teaches us to be even more grateful for what the Savior has done.
We are under covenant or promise with the Lord as we partake of His holy sacrament. We promise to remember His flesh and blood, as He willingly gave His life for each one of us. Next, we take upon ourselves His name and promise to remember Him. Finally, we promise to keep the commandments of God.
In turn, our Savior promises us that we shall have His Spirit to be with us and that we have the promise of eternal life, if we will only remain worthy. These are truly remarkable promises. Is it any wonder then that we should “search diligently in the light of Christ” and “lay hold upon every good thing” (Moro. 7:19) so we might truly become children of Christ? We are not His children in a physical sense, but in a pure and wholesome I-want-to-be-like-Him sense of following His example (see Mosiah 5:7; D&C 25:1).
We made covenants when we were baptized. We renew those covenants each week as we take the sacrament and remember our Savior. We literally can “have his Spirit to be with [us]” (D&C 20:77). This Spirit guides us in our daily living. It helps us make critical decisions and right choices.
Sometimes young people choose not to partake of the bread and water. Some think they are being cool or smug or do not feel like they have to conform. Truthfully, it is a show of immaturity or rebellion. The only time we do not partake of the sacrament is when we are unworthy. If you are unworthy, go and see your bishop. He will give you guidelines and counsel that will help make you worthy.
You need to take the sacrament every week. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) has told us: “Worthy partakers of the sacrament put themselves in perfect harmony with the Lord.”3
Do not slip into the habit of letting the sacrament trays pass by without tasting of the bread and lifting the cup of water to your lips. It may seem like a small thing to you, but it really does matter. You need His Spirit. You need to be in harmony with Him. Harmony means “in tune.” Participate as you know you should.
Failure to attend meetings to partake of the sacrament may lead to serious problems. Paul explained to the Corinthians that many members were weak and sickly in spirit and body because they failed to show their love for the Lord Jesus Christ in keeping this commandment (see 1 Cor. 11:20–34). Physical and spiritual blessings come from participating in the emblems of the sacrament.
Jesus Christ came into the world to “redeem his people” (Alma 11:40). The path “is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course” for those who truly want to be His. It is not a complicated path, as He points the way. He is “the keeper of the gate.” He is the “Holy One of Israel” (2 Ne. 9:41).
You are of divine origin. As you make your way back to God’s presence, by following His uniquely perfect yet simple plan, you can be very happy.
This happiness can be found every week as you remember the Savior by partaking of the sacrament. He can divinely guide your life, if you will just let Him. As you attend your meetings and renew your covenants with Him every Sunday, you will find the inner peace and contentment that is missing for most of those in the world today. Sadly, many do not know where to find that peace, but you do. You will find answers to many questions about life as you ponder and take seriously your worship in regards to the sacrament.