As a young boy, about the age of five, my mother took me to a meeting of a branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where the emblems of the holy sacrament were blessed and passed to the small congregation by the Aaronic Priesthood. After drinking the water, I looked up at the attending deacon and indicated that I wanted to keep the paper cup. This is something I had done before, finding some entertainment in playing with it. This time, however, the young deacon politely shook his head negatively, and then he waited for me to return the cup to the tray that he was holding. This I did. As he walked away from me, I remember thinking, “There is something special about what we should be doing with our time when the sacrament is taking place.”
This experience still prompts me to ponder an important question: What can we do to make partaking of the sacrament more meaningful?
Jesus Teaches to Remember Him and Obey His Commandments
When Jesus instituted the sacrament by breaking and blessing the bread, He counseled, “this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19; see also Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24). According to Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 14:20-26, Christ instructed, “And as oft as ye do this ordinance, ye will remember me, in this hour that I was with you and drank with you this cup, even the last in my ministry” (JST Mark 14:24). The Savior clearly taught that during the administration of the sacrament we should remember His teachings, His acts of love, times when we have felt especially close to Him, or the sins and pains He took upon Himself in our behalf.
Jesus also personally administered His sacrament to His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America (3 Nephi 18:1-13). After they drank from the sacrament cup, he declared, “this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you” (3 Nephi 18:10). Then, he added, “And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:11). This same counsel is repeated in Christ’s actual sacramental prayers that Moroni felt inspired to add when writing “a few more things” (Moroni 1:4) in his conclusion to the Book of Mormon (see Moroni 4:3; 5:2). These instructions and sacramental prayers instituted by Jesus serve as a “reminder of His great atoning sacrifice” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign, Apr. 2000)
New Meeting Schedule Emphasizes the Sacrament
In this past year, the importance of sacrament has been accentuated by recent changes. At the April 2019 general conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained: “In addition to making time for more home-centered gospel instruction, our modified Sunday service is also to reduce the complexity of the meeting schedule in a way that properly emphasizes the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as the sacred, acknowledged focal point of our weekly worship experience. …By commandment, we gather for the most universally received ordinance in the Church. It is in memory of Him who asked if the cup He was about to drink could pass, only to press on because He knew that for our sake it could not pass. It will help us if we remember that a symbol of that cup is slowly making its way down the row toward us at the hand of an 11- or 12-year-old deacon” (“Behold the Lamb of God,” Ensign, May 2019).
Each of us should be striving to make our worship at sacrament meeting more meaningful (see “Sacrament,” Gospel Topics). Another key resource available on ChurchofJesusChrist.org is the video “Always Remember Him”:
These Church resources can help us as individuals and families learn or remember what we need to be doing before, during, and after the sacrament in order to repent of our sins and renew our covenants with God. Remembering the life and sacrifices of Jesus Christ can inspire us to have powerful, reverent, and reflective moments encouraged by spiritual feelings and impressions.
Spiritually Guided to Minister
With respect to what spiritual promptings we may be guided to have, Elder Holland also suggested: “When the sacred hour comes to present our sacrificial gift to the Lord, we do have our own sins and shortcomings to resolve; that’s why we’re there. But we might be more successful in such contrition if we are mindful of the other broken hearts and sorrowing spirits that surround us. …There is no shortage of suffering in this world, inside the Church and out, so look in any direction and you will find someone whose pain seems too heavy to bear and whose heartache seems never to end. One way to ‘always remember him’ would be to join the Great Physician in His never-ending task of lifting the load from those who are burdened and relieving the pain of those who are distraught.” (“Behold the Lamb of God,” 28).
The sacrament is the most holy and sacred meeting of the Church. When a young deacon respectfully encouraged me to replace my empty cup on the sacramental tray, he was teaching me the importance of the Lord’s sacrament. It was only the beginning, however, of what I hope will be a lifelong pursuit of repenting of my sins, renewing my covenants to remember Savior, and to serve others as Jesus Christ did.