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Lessons from taking the sacrament

By Joy Saunders Lundberg

Published: Sunday, Jan. 16 2011 5:30 a.m. MST

Sometimes a sacrament meeting speaker will say something that lingers in your mind for years to come. That happened to me when a speaker was giving a talk about the importance of the sacrament. He told about a man who came into a meeting and sat on the pew beside him; he didn't recognize the man and found out later he was not a member of the LDS Church. The man was attentive and reverent. When the sacrament bread was passed the man took a piece and said in a barely audible voice, "Thank you, Jesus."

When the water was passed, he drank and again said, "Thank you, Jesus." The speaker told how touched he was by this man's gratitude to the Savior for what he had done for him.

Now whenever I partake of the sacrament I often find myself thinking the words, "Thank you, Jesus."

Expressing gratitude in our hearts for what the Savior has done for us is significantly important; however, that is just one part of the sacrament experience for Latter-day Saints.

The late Elder Joseph Anderson, an emeritus general authority, explained, "When we enter into the waters of baptism we enter into covenant with the Lord that we will keep the commandments that he has given us. When we partake of the sacrament we renew that covenant; we partake of these emblems in remembrance of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior; we express a willingness to take upon us His name, the name of our Lord and Master, our Savior, Jesus Christ; and we covenant that we will always remember him, that we will keep the commandments which he has given us" ("We Are a Covenant-making People," Ensign, November 1976, page 89).

In speaking about the sacrament, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve, reminded us that we as a people need to take the sacrament much more seriously than we often do — and that the sacrament is the real purpose of sacrament meeting, not something to rush through so we can get on with the rest of the meeting. He also counseled that everything in the meeting, all that is spoken or sung, should be in harmony with that sacred ordinance (see "This Do in Remembrance of Me," Ensign, November 1995, page 67).

Learning to be filled

I remember sacrament meetings years ago when our five children were small. It was a challenge to stay focused and to feel the Spirit as they wriggled and poked each other, too-loudly asking, "When will the snackerment come?"

Some Sundays I felt sufficiently righteous just getting them ready enough to show up. For several of those years I was the task master while my bishopric husband sat on the stand, smiling encouragement from afar. Now I see young mothers and fathers doing the same thing — trying their best. I have learned that "their best" — or close to it — is good enough for those challenging years.

How glad I am that we didn't let the difficultness of it keep us away. There were moments scattered here and there throughout those years that made it all worthwhile.

Those children understand it now as they experience the same with their little ones. And I've also discovered that finding the sacrament to be an anticipated delicious "snack" isn't too far off base. Gradually the deliciousness takes on new meaning, with feelings of joy and renewal.

We can experience this joy of having his Spirit with us in a variety of ways. In sharing her sacrament experience, a friend told me, "One Sunday as the priests tore the bread I pondered, 'Why do they tear the bread?' At that moment the hymn rang out in my mind: bruised, broken, torn for us — and a picture came to me of Jesus with his arms outstretched, the spikes being driven through his hands and His flesh tearing. At that moment the Spirit enveloped me, and I knew of his love for me.

Being worthy to partake

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