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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Symbolism of the Sacrament

I want to talk about the symbolism of the Sacrament, and give my readers some things to consider when they next partake of the Sacrament. I hope that this discussion on the Sacrament will convey its sacredness. As you read this envision the ordinance of the Sacrament being performed, and the very real experiences you have each week as you partake of it.

*Remember, as you read, that everything I am saying is symbolic, or in representation of the Atonement. If I do not say that in the narrative, it is only for effect.*

IT IS A VOLUNTARY ORDINANACE

The Sacrament is an unusual ordinance in the church. The Sacrament is not a saving ordinance, but is instead a growing ordinance. If we, or our ancestors, never partake of the Sacrament we/they will not be docked Celestial brownie points for it. It is not like baptism, sealing, or other Temple Ordinances that must be performed in order to receive the highest glory. The Sacrament is entirely voluntary.

The atonement is also voluntary. We are not, and will not be forced to take advantage of the atonement. If we would rather spend eternity in outer darkness, our Savior will let us go to outer darkness, rather than saving us when we don’t want to be saved. Consider this when the Sacrament trays come to you. Are you going to partake of this symbol of Salvation, or let it pass you by? What will you do when Christ stands for you at the last day? Will you accept his sacrifice, or will you hide your eyes from him in shame, refusing to partake?

SALVATION AND THE ATONEMENT

As symbols of Christ’s body, and blood, the Sacrament is a symbol of Salvation. When we partake of the Sacrament we are symbolically accepting salvation.  We are choosing to remember Christ, repent, come unto him in humility, and follow his precepts to the best of our ability. What more sacred symbol can we have than partaking of salvation itself?

Maybe this is also why we are instructed to not partake of the Sacrament unworthily, for if we are unrepentant, then are we choosing to not partake of salvation? This would be worth reader’s comments. Hint Hint.

Also, consider the size of the bread and water that comes to you. As silly as it sounds I sometimes look for the biggest piece of bread so I can get a bigger piece of salvation. After preparing this lesson though, I am looking at the size of the Sacrament differently. The amount of bread and water we receive is the tiniest portion of a meal. It isn’t even enough to take the edge off our hunger when we’re fasting. This is also in similitude of the Atonement. The proverbial portion of the atonement we receive from Christ is but a small portion of the total atonement. It is but a small thing to save us, to forgive us, and to bring us home.

IT’S ABOUT RIGHT NOW

We receive the atonement almost weekly. This isn’t only a reminder that we are continually striving to improve ourselves, but it is also a reminder that we are offered to partake of the Atonement in the here and now, not just at the Judgment Seat. Consider this when you take the Sacrament, when you consider repentance, and when you consider your relationship with God. Christ’s hand isn’t stretched out only at the last day, but is stretched out still, meaning it is stretched out now, and he is offering to let us partake of the atonement right now, if we will accept it.

SERVICE

The Sacrament allows us to serve, and others to serve us. If we are passing the Sacrament, or blessing the Sacrament we are directly acting as the Savior’s representatives in offering our brothers and sisters symbols of the salvation of Christ. Consider the Sacredness of that calling, and when you do, I would encourage each of the brethren to volunteer to bless, or pass the Sacrament, and when you do, think about the service you are providing. I can almost guarantee your eyes will not be dry when you sit down again.

In our families, on our pews, in our chairs we pass the sacrament to each other. This not only represents us sharing the Atonement with others, but represents us doing missionary work. We are commanded to teach our loved ones sitting next to us, our friends a few spots down, and the stranger at the other end of the pew. When we pass the Sacrament to the next person on our bench we are offering them to partake with you, and be filled with joy with you. When we do missionary work we are offering the same thing to our friends, families, and complete strangers, hoping they will accept.

Lastly, don’t forget that the Sacrament is being served to you by the Lord’s representatives, which is in similitude of Christ serving the Atonement to you. Will you deny the gift of the Atonement? Will you casually take your piece of bread and water, and casually pass it on? Or will you partake of it, considering your covenants, and the opportunity you are being given to repent, and come unto him? Will you choose to take it casually this time, promising in your heart to be more sincere next week? Or will you stop putting off the love of God, and partake in the now, when it is right in front of you, with full purpose of heart?

 CLOSING

These are just a few things that the Sacrament represents. There are so many more and I implore you to search them out. A quick Google search will give you a ton of ideas, but nothing will compare to what the Lord teaches you personally through the Holy Ghost.

So, when you notice symbolism, write it down, and consider what it means to you. Why did the Spirit point out this particular piece of symbolism to you today? Before long you’ll have a lengthy list of things to focus on during the Sacrament, and a personal growth chart of sorts. Teach these things to your family. If you have children, make a game of it (a reverent game). Have them write down the symbolism they noticed in the Sacrament, and have everyone share their experiences during FHE. Bare your testimony about the Sacrament during fast and testimony meeting. Do whatever it is you feel inspired to do that makes the Sacrament more meaningful to you, and your family. I can guarantee that you will grow from the experience quickly, and in ways you never thought possible. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen