The Lord in His goodness has given to us the commandment to meet together on the Lord’s day to worship Him, build our faith and testimony by edifying one another, and feasting upon the words of Christ (see Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-14). The gathering of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides an opportunity for the Spirit to teach, guide, and purify. There is the opportunity to access the power of God through participation in the ordinance of the sacrament and to be taught and uplifted by one another.
President Spencer W. Kimball describes my feelings about the Sabbath in these words: “It is a day when songs may be sung, prayers offered, sermons preached, and testimonies borne, and when man may climb high, almost annihilating time, space, and distance between himself and his Creator” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 171).
Feeling Christ’s Spirit by Partaking of the Sacrament
I especially love attending sacrament meeting. My participation strengthens, fortifies, and enables me to endure whatever my week may bring. I have been privileged to attend sacrament meeting with just four missionaries in attendance, in a large student Brigham Young University (BYU) ward, in small branches, singles wards, large wards, in my own home through the blessing of ministering brothers with young priests, and in the past year by utilizing the technology of Zoom and web broadcasts. Technology does not always work properly, so at times there has been sound with no video. I have sat on the front row and the back row in numerous chapels. All these variations had one common element: the Spirit of the Lord—even His very presence could be felt. I could #HearHim.
When I was a teenager in Nova Scotia, there were few young members in my branch. It was always a joy to have conferences and gatherings where you could mingle and make friends from other branches of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I would often participate in the sacrament meeting in my own Dartmouth branch. Then a few of us would travel to the Halifax branch to attend their sacrament meeting. I loved the feeling that filled my soul as I participated in a second sacrament meeting.
Accessing Technological Blessings
As single women during the COVID-19 restrictions, there have been many months when my mother and I were unable to have the sacrament ordinance administered in our home. We were, however, able to participate virtually in sacrament meetings: viewing talks by ward members, seldom seen friends, missionaries coming home, missionaries leaving, and hearing hymns and special musical presentations. Reminiscent of my youth, I was able to participate in two or more sacrament meetings to worship the Lord and bask in the Spirit. It is perhaps a strange thing to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought blessings into my life that may never have resulted without it.
Even before the pandemic outbreak, Elder Neil L. Andersen explained: “Can you see the Lord’s hand in giving us the technology to turn our children toward their fathers? … Can you see the Lord’s purposes in helping us to more fully honor the Sabbath day? These are compensatory spiritual gifts from heaven for the righteous” (“A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous” [Brigham Young University devotional, Aug. 18, 2015], speeches.byu.edu). I have learned that gathering in the Lord’s name can occur not only in a chapel but also through a computer, cell phone, or TV screen across thousands of miles.
Despite being isolated in my home, I can feel united with other believers, and the Spirit of the Lord can reach deep into my heart. The Lord has provided expanded spiritual blessings, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:32).
Edified by Those Who Share Thoughts and Music
When I listen carefully as sacred truths are shared in speech and music, the Holy Ghost testifies of gospel truths, and my testimony is reaffirmed. The sharing of experiences connects me to my brothers and sisters. I think that is partly what testimony bearing is all about—it is sharing heart-to-heart. Those connections help me in my efforts to increase my faith, develop oneness, and endure.
President Russell M. Nelson has taught, “Each member of the Church bears responsibility for the spiritual enrichment that can come from a sacrament meeting” (“Worshipping at Sacrament Meeting,” Ensign, Aug. 2004, 28). To help me prepare, I have a notebook in my purse for those moments the Spirit teaches me the words of Christ shared by a speaker or through music. I have left many meetings with seeds of thought to ponder and study during the coming week. My journal is filled with many inspirations and revelations that began with a few words spoken from the pulpit during a sacrament meeting. Such strategies help me experience the Lord’s promise, “Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:22).
Guided by Remembering
There is great strength to be found in remembering. Elder Ronald A. Rasband encourages: “Remember when you first knew that Joseph Smith was God’s prophet of the Restoration? Remember when you accepted Moroni’s challenge and knew that the Book of Mormon was indeed another testament of Jesus Christ? Remember when you received an answer to fervent prayer and realized that your Heavenly Father knows and loves you personally? As you contemplate such special experiences, don’t they give you a sense of gratitude and resolve to go forward with renewed faith and determination?” (“Special Experiences,” Ensign, May 2008, 11).
As I attend sacrament meeting, the speakers of all ages remind me of past spiritual experiences. A quote from a general conference talk reminds me of the Spirit I felt when the talk was first given. A missionary shares a mission experience and reminds me of my mission. A young person expresses gratitude for seminary, and I feel gratitude for my seminary experiences. Primary children fill my heart with warmth and appreciation for their simple and trusting faith.
Sacrament meeting is a sacred gift from a loving Heavenly Father that helps me remember His presence in my life. I remember, and my testimony is strengthened.
Inspired by My Ward Family
There have been many occasions when my heart has been filled with prayer throughout the entirety of a sacrament meeting. I have prayed intensely for the person sitting next to me or the speaker. I have prayed for anxiety to diminish, blessings of comfort, solutions to challenges, strength to endure, and spiritual recognition of Heavenly Father’s love. My prayers are heard and answered.
My eyes have been opened to see that the Lord has provided a family for me. I see babies blessed and watch them grow through their Primary years. Young Women and Young Men programs teach them to mature physically and spiritually by ministering to others. Many serve missions, get married, and have children. My ward family enhances my life with much joy simply through weekly observation of their efforts in striving to follow Jesus Christ. They inspire me to remain determined to continue to worship at sacrament meetings whether I can attend in-person or through the miracle of technology.