Thursday, May 26, 2005


The Sacrament

After studying 9 conference talks (from Dallin H. Oaks, David B. Haight, Jeffrey R. Holland, L. Tom Perry, Vaugh J. Featherstone, and John H. Groberg) about the Sacrament and condensing the points to 13 typewritten pages, then further condensing it to 31 note cards, I see that the ideas that I have selected fall into 6 categories. Most of the language is directly quoted from the talks but citations and quotation marks have been omitted:

1. The Meeting
a) Of the sacred meetings of the church, Sacrament meeting is one of the most important. However, it is sometimes marked by apparent lack of preparation, general irreverence, commotion, and at times a spirit not conducive to thoughtful worship.
b) 1970 Joseph Fielding Smith administration letter: The object of [Sacrament meeting] is to provide the spiritual uplift and sound doctrinal teaching... Speakers should relate faith promoting experiences, bear testimony, expound doctrinal subjects and speak in a spirit of love and brotherhood... Avoid travelogues, argumentations, criticism, and the discussion of controversial subjects which have no direct bearing on the saving principles of the gospel.
c) Our Sacrament meetings should be the very perfection of our expression of reverence for God.
d) The Aaronic Priesthood should be clean in appearance and reverent in manner and remember the emblems represent the body and blood of our Lord. Priests should speak the prayers clearly and distinctly. Everyone but the priests preparing the bread should sing the Sacrament hymn.

2. Passover
a) Jesus presided at this last passover. He made a last symbolic sacrifice in preparation for the real sacrifice he later offered. By celebrating the Passover feast, he gave his endorsement to all those similitudes, signs and tokens of the past millenia that had prefigured his great sacrifice.
b) A night of all nights in history was the night of the passover feast that culminated in the infinite atonement by the Son of God.

3. Importance of the Sacrament
a) Several important truths about the Sacrament: 1. Jesus gave Himself-His body and His blood-as a ransom for our sins. So that we might live again. 2. We eat in remembrance of his body. We remember the Passover, the Last Supper, Gethsemane, Calvary and the Resurrection. 3. His blood represents a new Testament--a new covenant. We drink in remembrance of his sufferings. As often as we partake in sincerity, we do "shew the Lord's death [or testify of it] til he comes again." (1 Cor.11:26).
4. We are blessed as we live his comandments. Personal worthiness for the sacrament is a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Ghost.
b) Worthiness implies all those matters mentioned in the temple interview questions--but much more is expected. There must be Harmony among Christs Disciples, especially within families. "If any have trespassed let him not until he makes reconciliation." (D&C 46:4).
c) So sacred did the First Presidency regard the Sacrament as an ordinance that it was withheld from the Saints for some months in 1856-57 to afford them a space and time for repentance, restitution, and when ready, for a renewal of their covenants.
d) The Sacrament is the ordinance that ties most directly to the Atonement.
e) It is essential that we renew our covenants by partaking of the Sacrament--when we do so with a sincere heart and with real intent the Lord provides a way whereby sins can be forgiven from week to week. Spiritual preparation for partaking of the Sacrament is essential to receiving a remission of our sins.
f) The Atonement is the foundational doctrine of all things, including the Sacrament. The law of sacrifice was a similitude of the Atonement. During our Sacrament meetings we make an offering, so to speak, by repenting and coming unto Christ. Our sacrifice is not a literal sacrifice of animals but a sacrifice of time, money, talents, and a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The Atonement lifts us to a level of opportunity to become joint heirs with christ and to be exalted with the blessings of "eternal lives." (D&C 132:24).
g) Our Father in Heaven understood the need for his children to be reminded of the promises He has made to us if we would obey his laws. The blessings of the Atonement of our Lord and Savior is that each of has the privilege of enjoying immortality and eternal life.
h) Partaking of the Sacrament we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and obligate ourselves to keep his commandments by covenant. This makes the partaking of the Sacrament a renewal of the covenants we made at baptism. We declare weekly our allegiance to the plan of salvation, its obligations and blessings.
i) President David O. McKay reminded us of our obligation to prepare to partake of the Sacrament each week and noted that we obligate ourselves to do certain things: First, Take upon ourselves the name of the Son. Second, That we will always remember Him--including our daily acts and self control. Third, That we will keep his commandments --including tithing, fast offerings, word of wisdom, kindness, foregiveness and love. Obedience bring eternal life.
j) "Come unto Christ and be perfected in him" is the invitation. One important way is through the Sacrament. Partaking of the Sacrament and following the dictates of the spirit will result in blessings that will help us to improve and perfect our lives.
k) The Sacrament is one of the most sacred ordinances. Associated with partaking of the Sacrament are principles fundamental to man's advancement and exaltation in the Kingdom of God and the shaping of one's spiritual character. Our weekday conduct should reflect the spiritual renewal and commitments made on Sunday. By partaking of the Sacrament each Sunday we receive encouragement and strength to keep the commandments of God to live uprightly, virtously, and honestly.

4. The Holy Ghost and Repentance
a) After we were baptized, hands were laid upon our heads and we were given the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we consciously and sincerely renew our baptismal covenants as we partake of the Sacrament, we renew our qualification for the promise "that [we] may always have his spirit to be with [us]." (D&C 20:77).
b) The blessings available through the Holy Ghost are conditioned upon worthiness -- The spirit will only dwell with us when we keep the commandments. The need to keep our personal temple clean in order to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost explains the importance of the commandment to partake of the sacrament on the Sabbath.
c) In partaking of the Sacrament, we renew the effects of our baptism. When we desire a remission of our sins through the Atonement of our Savior, we are commanded to repent and come to him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. In the waters of baptism we witness to the Lord that we have repented of our sins and are willing to take his name upon us and serve him to the end. (D&C 20:37)-- The remission of sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost as described in 2 Nephi 31:17 is fulfilled as a result of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
d) The renewal of our covenants by partaking of the Sacrament should also be proceeded by repentance, so that we can come to that sacred ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Then as we renew our baptismal covenants and affirm that we will "always remember him" the Lord will renew the promised remission of our sins, under the conditions and at the time he chooses. One of the primary purposes and effects of this renewal of covenants and cleansing from sin is "that [we] may always have his spirit to be with [us]. (D&C 20:77).
e) The close relationship between partaking of the Sacrament and the companionship of the Holy Ghost is explained in the revealed Sacramental prayer. In partaking of the bread we witness we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ -- always remember Him-- keep his commandments--and when we do so we have the promise that we will always have his spirit to be with us.(D&C 20:77).
f) The companionship of the Holy Ghost is the most precious possession we can have in mortality. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed on us at baptism but to realize the blessings of that gift we must keep ourselves free from sin. The spirit of the Lord does not dwell in unholy temples. Without some method for further cleansing after baptism we would be without the Holy Ghost and lost to things spiritual. The Sacrament is an essential part of the process by which we may be cleansed periodically from the soil of sin.
g) We are commanded (D&C 59:8-9) to come with a broken heart and contrite spirit to partake of the sacrament -- and the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptisms-- in this way we are made clean and can have his spirit to be with us.

5. Meaning of Taking Upon Ourselves the Name of Christ
a) Renew our baptismal covenant
b) That we are willing to take upon us his name points to a future status. It signifies a willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ in sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available when he chooses to confer them upon us.
c) Commit to do all we can to be counted among those who will stand at his right hand and be called by his name at the last day as candidates for eternal life.

6. Special Symbolism
a) With a crust of bread, always broken, blessed and offered first, we remember His bruised body and broken heart, his physical suffering on the cross where he cried, "I thirst," and finally, "My God, My God, why hast though forsaken me?" The Savior's physical suffering guarantees that through his mercy and grace, every member of the human family will be freed from the bonds of death and resurrected from the grave.
b) With a small cup of water we remember the shedding of Christ's blood and the depth of his spiritual suffering which began in the Garden of Gethsemane where he said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." He was in agony and prayed "more earnestly and his sweat was as great drops of blood falling to the ground." The Savior's spiritual suffering paid the debt of Adam's transgression and provides for the remission of all of our sins as well on conditions of obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel. As Paul says, "we were bought with a price." (1 Cor. 6:20).
c) Every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the Atonement -- and surely the Sacrament does so with its symbolism and imagery more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called the "most sacred, the most holy, of all meetings of the church." The sacrament is the real purpose of the meeting -- and everything should be consistent with the grandeur of this sacred ordinance.
d) The white shirts that should be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the Sacrament could be seen as a reminder of the white clothing worn to the baptismal font and to the temple.
e) In a resurrected, otherwise perfected body, our Lord of the Sacrament table has chosen to retain for the benefit of his disciples the wounds in his hands and his feet and his side. It is the wounded Christ who is the captain of our souls -- he who yet bears the scars of sacrifice, love, humility, and forgiveness.
f) One request that Christ made of his disciples on that night of deep anguish and grief was that they stand by him, stay near him in his hour of sorrow and pain. "Could ye not watch with me one hour?" (Matt. 26:40). I think that he asks that again of us, every Sabbath day when the emblems of his life are blessed and passed.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


One Man's Testimony

Times & Seasons ? Why I have a testimony: "This is my reasoning: how could anyone have written the Book of Mormon as a present-day forgery and at the same time be so completely engaged in the preaching of absolute truth? Internal historical criticism tells me it seems impossible for someone to write hundreds of pages instilled with intense spiritual power and dynamic moralism, knowing that the basis of it is deceit. And then close with Moroni?s promise."

Most uplifting post I've seen at T&S.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Of Arms and Men

Following my course of study with Preach My Gospel, I read last night Alma 17-22. As I read I recalled a Gospel Doctrine lesson for which we had no instructor and just before the meeting I volunteered (Yes! Volunteered! no slothful servant here, well, not on that occassion anyway) to teach it. While giving the lesson which included Ammon's stunning exploits at the Waters of Sebus I was struck by the imagery of the sheep, the water, and the shepherds--all calling to mind the Savior. Anyway, what I found interesting last night was the well-known episode of Ammon cutting off the arms of all those who raised their weapons against him. The image is that of Ammon causing the arms of the raiders to be cut off and cast to the earth by the power of his own arm and sword. Quite a fascinating foreshadowing of the People of Ammon who will later cast down their own arms, i.e., weapons, and vow not to take them up again, all by the power of the word (which is sharp as a two-edged sword).


Work & Glory

The kids got The Work and The Glory movie for their mom for Mother's Day.

I haven't read any of the books so I can make no comparison between the books and the movie. I would have to rate the movie as disappointing. I found the actor portraying Joseph Smith to be very unconvincing. When he tries to tell of the First Vision or other spiritual things, his voice goes soft and he shakes his head back and forth -- as if he's subconsciously sending the message, "Don't believe a word I'm saying."

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