By Nikki Yaste
The Gospel Doctrine lesson #34 manual objective is “to help class members recognize the importance of living according to the doctrines of the gospel and receiving priesthood ordinances.”
To discuss how to prepare to be partakers of the sacramental feast.
According to Paul, what are the purposes of the sacrament? Why is examining our worthiness an important part of the sacrament?
The last night Jesus Christ spent with His disciples, He spent it preparing them for the partaking of the sacrament, where Christ would foretell of the details of the coming day by breaking the bread, as an example of His body that would be broken, maimed and bruised and pouring out of the wine, a demonstration of the blood that would be spilt on our behalf.
For the Jews, Passover is an annual meal that represents a defining moment in Israel’s history. Many centuries before Jesus’s last meal, the Israelites had been in bondage to the Egyptians, enslaved by Pharaoh. After God had sent many plagues to the Egyptians in efforts to get Pharaoh to release the Israelites, God sent one final plague: death to the first-born son. The sword of divine justice would fall on everyone. This plague would not “Passover” the Jews simply because they were Jewish. In every home that night in Egypt, from the Egyptians to the Jewish people, there would be a death. The only way your family could escape this death was to put your faith in God’s sacrificial provision, a lamb. You would slay the lamb and put the blood above the door of your home as a sign that your faith was in God. In every home that night there would be either a dead child or a dead lamb. In the morning, justice would be found either in the mourning of the family or in the rejoicing of the sacrificial shelter of the blood of the lamb. If you accepted this shelter and followed God’s commandments, then you were saved. You were saved on the basis of your faith and your willingness to find refuge beneath your sacrifice.
There are certain and specific ways the meal at Passover has to be prepared and delivered. It includes four points at which the presider, holding a glass of wine, stands and explains the significance of the meal. At each meal there are four cups signifying the four promises made by God found in Exodus 6:6-7. These promises include being rescued from the Egyptians, freedom from slavery, redemption and a renewed relationship with God. The third cup is presented when the meal is mostly eaten, where it is presented to bless the elements-the bread, herbs, lamb-by explaining their significance to the Israelites while they were still in captivity.
I smile when I think of Jesus as the presider of last feast. I think about how He explained each element to His disciples when suddenly, He breaks the script. “This is MY body…” “This is MY blood…” He explains. All the sacrifices, all the lambs at Passover, all pointed to this moment. All of it points to Him. Just as the first Passover was observed the night before God redeemed the Israelites from the Egyptians through the blood of sacrificed lamb, this Passover meal was to be eaten the night before God redeemed the world from its sins through His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus demonstrating that a new relationship, a new covenant will now happen between us and our Father in Heaven.
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul states:
“Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.”
Are we remembering that sacrifice when we partake of the sacrament each week? Are we grateful for it? Do we understand it’s depth and eternal significance?
When I first became a member of the Church, I found the sacramental prayers to be sweet, but over time and with the redundancy of each Sunday, they lost their “meaning” and it became a routine. I do not feel I am alone. Wrestling with our children, checking our phones, tired, hungry from fasting…are we still engaged? Are we thankful? Are we aware?
Over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the repetition. Only through the Sacrament can we live intimately with Christ. Our bodies are not just mortal instruments, but a place where God wants to show His glory. I’ve memorized the sacramental blessing and quietly say it along with Priesthood. And though I can’t take the sacrament every day, I find myself whispering those prayers daily.
“Eat, drink…always remember Him” D&C 20
I’ve begun journaling before each Sacrament meeting. I ask myself the following questions,
“Where do I need the Atonement of Christ to cover me this week?” “Where am I hurting?” “Where do I need His sustaining help?” “Where do I need His comfort?”
With that focus, it humbles me and shows me that it’s because of HIS goodness, not mine that I am able to live forever with my Father in Heaven. The sacrament points towards a future with Jesus. Because of this small feast, it makes the ultimate feast possible in our lives. And one day, we will take our seats at God’s table. But until then, we are asked to “remember.”
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
An Instrument of Homecoming, Joanna Brooks
Part of my idea doubtless comes from Passover. The Jewish people are brilliant at using food to help remember. They have worked it out over millennia: eat and tell your story. I needed something like that for me! So, Pioneer Day: eat and tell your story.
Passover is a spiritual, holy day and Pioneer Day is not a holy day but a cultural day, so I don’t try to make it heavy-handed. We don’t say a series of prayers or have a liturgy like you have for Passover, but we sit around a table and eat and tell stories about who we are. I make some form of Mormon dinner, usually camp and light-hearted. I’ll pull out a couple of Mormon cookbooks I have and cook things that will horrify my husband, various Jell-O dishes, and funeral potatoes (which, truth be told, I never ate growing up as a child but I really like them). My kids and I wear bonnets, and we tell stories about our ancestors who came across the plains.
I invite non-member friends mostly. They think it’s great. They’re all kind of pleased to witness a cultural experience. Some of them have not eaten Jell-O before. Most of the people I associate with day-to-day are not LDS, as is true of most of us who live outside the Utah corridor, and me probably more than most because I married outside of the faith and because I work outside of the home, so I have a lot of non-LDS contact every day. So I’m just excited to share it in a lighthearted way with people I’m close to, and they are excited to be a part of it.
Taught in All the Learning, Dayan Bernal
My faith is what keeps me going. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that he helps me accomplish all of my daily tasks. It is because of Him that I have been able to accomplish little by little my dreams and goals. I know that if my foundation is in Christ everything will be okay, no matter what happens. To build my foundation I make sure I do the simple, basic things first and foremost. I believe in gaining revelation and guidance through prayer. There have been many times when I didn’t know what to do about something, but then I was able to gain clarity and answers because I prayed earnestly and studied the scriptures daily. The temple has always given me great strength to do what is right and to trust in the Lord with all my heart, mind, and strength. Using the atonement in my daily life, partaking of the sacrament and renewing my covenants, and doing the best I can in fulfilling my callings allows me to be ever so grateful for this mortality and gives me greater joy. I try to put the Lord first in everything I do, and I know that He blesses me for that.
In the Lord’s Time, Peka Holmes
It wasn’t until that moment I wanted a child so badly that I just stopped and I made a commitment that I was going back to church. That whole journey of coming back was amazing. I had gone without taking the sacrament for such a long time that once I was able to take it again I didn’t ever want to go without it.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Remembering, Repenting and Changing, Julie Beck
It is not possible to make real change all by ourselves. Our own willpower and our own good intentions are not enough. When we make mistakes or choose poorly, we must have the help of our Savior to get back on track. We partake of the sacrament week after week to show our faith in His power to change us.
Look Toward Eternity!, Elaine S. Dalton
Satan wants all of us to think that repentance is not possible. This is absolutely not true. The Savior has promised forgiveness. 8 Each week, worthily partaking of the sacrament makes it possible for each of us to become clean and pure as we covenant to “always remember [the Savior], and keep his commandments.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of simplicity, and we are given the tools that make the pathway straight and narrow. The way is clear: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Agency-A Blessing and A Burden, Sharon G. Larsen
Because our purpose here on earth has not changed, nor will it ever, our Father steadily and regularly supplies additional gifts to make our world safe and strengthen our wise use of agency. Think about the gift of prayer—opportunities to be heard and understood. Think about the gift of the Holy Ghost, who will show us all the things that we should do (see 2 Ne. 32:5 ). Think about sacred covenants we have made, the scriptures, priesthood and patriarchal blessings. Think about the ultimate gift of the Atonement and its reminder in the sacrament that blankets us with love and hope and grace. These gifts help us use our agency wisely to return back to our heavenly home, where “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” ( 1 Cor. 2:9 ).
That We May All Sit Down in Heaven Together, Kathleen H. Hughes
Let me tell you the story of a young woman I met recently. Alicia, as a teenager, had drifted far from the Church, but later she felt stirrings to return. She often visited her grandfather in a retirement home on Sundays. On one of those days she decided to attend the Latter-day Saint meetings there. She opened the door and found a Relief Society meeting, but no empty seats. As she was about to leave, a woman motioned to her and scooted over to make room for her on her chair. Alicia said: “I wondered what the woman would think of me. I was covered with body piercings, and I smelled of smoke. But she didn’t seem to mind; she simply made a place for me at her side.”
Alicia, heartened by this woman’s charity, returned to activity. She has served a mission and is now sharing that same kind of love with other women. The elderly sister who shared her chair understood that there is a place for every woman in Relief Society. Sisters, we gather for strength, but we bring with us all our weaknesses and imperfections.
Alicia told me something I will never forget. She said: “I only do one thing for myself when I go to church: I take the sacrament for me. The rest of the time I watch for others who need me, and I try to help and nurture them.”