One of the most important lessons that we have learned during the COVID-19 social distancing precautions is that Aaronic Priesthood holders—deacons, teachers, and priests—are essential ministering servants of Jesus Christ. Although some young men in our stake may have found it more convenient to worship at home with their families, we have learned that they faithfully attend their local meetings and honorably fulfill their priesthood duties in preparing, blessing, and passing the sacred emblems of Christ’s holy sacrament. In their own way, these young men are providing an essential service for their fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Armed with Priesthood Power
In the February 8-14, 2021 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families lesson, the following statement by Sister Carole M. Stephens, former counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, is cited: “Priesthood ordinances and covenants provide access to the fulness of the blessings promised to us by God, which are made possible by the Savior’s Atonement. They arm sons and daughters of God with power, God’s power, and provide us with the opportunity to receive eternal life” (see also “Do We Know What We Have?” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 13).
By officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament, Aaronic Priesthood holders are helping members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ to be strengthened by God’s power. The process for learning to access priesthood power is guided by the Holy Ghost as promised in the closing words of both sacramental prayers, “that they may have his Spirit to be with them” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:79, Moroni 5:2).
Following the promptings and tutelage of the Comforter is what will help us understand and receive priesthood power. As President Dallin H. Oaks explains, “Angelic messages can be delivered by a voice or merely by thoughts or feelings communicated to the mind.
…So it is that those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood open the door for all Church members who worthily partake of the sacrament to enjoy the companionship of the Spirit of the Lord and the ministering of angels” (“The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov. 1998).
Serving as Ministering Angels
Douglas D. Holmes, First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, has taught: “Young men, you are authorized messengers. Through your words and actions, you can bring faith in Christ to the hearts of God’s children (Moroni 7:25). As President Russell M. Nelson said, ‘To them you will be as a ministering angel’ (“Honoring the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1993, 40). …Brethren, it is a sacred privilege to administer ordinances that bring a remission of sins to repentant hearts through the Savior’s atoning power” (“What Every Aaronic Priesthood Holder Needs to Understand,” Ensign, May 2018).
Elder Jefferey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has also taught: “I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. …My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face” (“The Ministry of Angels,” Ensign, November 2008).
These teachings by Church leaders have helped us come to recognize—the young men who perform Aaronic Priesthood ordinances are among the angels who serve others on this side of the veil. Their watchful attention to the new hygiene guidelines initiated because of COVID-19 have helped us appreciate their willingness to do everything authorized by their priesthood callings to safely and reverently administer the sacrament. As members of Christ’s Church, we should be especially thankful for Aaronic Priesthood holders for their devoted sacrifices and service.
Increased Gratitude for the Sacrament
After nearly a year of social distancing and increased isolation, we have felt more gratitude for both our home-based and Church-based opportunities to partake of the blessed emblems of Christ’s sacrament. Each time we have the opportunity to hear the sacramental prayers, our minds and hearts have been touched and uplifted by the Holy Spirit. It provides us with both spiritual and physical strength to face ongoing challenges.
In some ways, we feel similar to the multitude who heard King Benjamin’s final address and cried out: “O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness for our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men” (Mosiah 4:2).