[Mikelle asked me to write her talk for this Sunday . . .]
I’m glad to be here today. The last time I spoke in Sacrament Meeting was when I was 12, just entering Young Women. So, although this assignment has been a little frightening for me, I am confident that I won’t have to do it again until I’m 32 years old.
I was asked to speak on the sacrament and how I can prepare for it.
Before I was baptized we had the missionaries come into our home and teach the basic gospel principles that we should all understand before taking that important step. Of course, they taught the plan of salvation, about repentance and faith, and about the importance of the sacrament and what the symbols and promises are. I was excited to become an official member of the church.
My family had, at that time, a tradition of having family baptisms for all the grandchildren with summer birthdays at a place near Pinedale, Wyoming, called Green River Lakes. My oldest brother, Scott, baptized me in the cold lake with lots of cousins and family members watching. My parents and grandparents were there. It was special and wonderful. My life was perfect on that summer day.
Eventually, I took for granted the taking of the sacrament. It was just something that we did at Sacrament Meeting. I heard talks about it, listened to the sacrament prayers, participated in class lessons and family home evening. But, I didn’t really appreciate all that it means.
I remember the first time as a teenager when I didn’t take the sacrament. My mother turned toward me and gasped. She said, “What’s going on? Why didn’t you take the sacrament?” That was the beginning of a very long road for me and my family — especially my mother.
I can happily say that I am now able to worthily take the sacrament. And today, I better understand what it means.
In 1st Timothy we read that as members of the Lord’s Restored Church we are commanded to “Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” I can think of no better way for us be begin, or continue, to be an example of believers than in our observance of the Sabbath Day. And the pattern of Sabbath day observance must always include worship and taking the sacrament. It’s not enough to just not work or not shop on Sunday! It’s not enough to spend time with family. It’s not enough to attend Relief Society. We must attend all our meetings, but especially Sacrament Meeting, and prepare ourselves ahead of time so that we are able to feel the promptings of the spirit.
As you know, the sacrament was instituted by the Savior, Himself. Can you even imagine what it would have been like to have received the sacrament, personally, from his hand? Can you imagine looking into his loving and forgiving eyes as he presented the emblems of his body and blood? Can you imagine hearing Him pray to His Father over the bread and water? We read about that very experience for the Twelve Disciples in the New Testament. But we can have a spiritual experience, much the same, here in our own lives.
As we listen to the prelude music our thoughts should begin to settle and turn to our Savior. We could open a hymnbook and quietly read the words to a sacrament hymn. We could begin to picture parts of the Savior’s life. All the bible stories we heard as children could go through our mind like a slide show. We would see Him heal the sick, and feed the hungry and find the lost sheep. We could picture Him as he shared the living gospel and taught his disciples. We would see Him gather children to Him and bless them individually. We would see Him in Gethsemane and then at Calvary. We would see His resurrected body as He allowed Thomas to touch His body to heal his broken faith. And we could ponder in our hearts His lasting grace and boundless charity for each of us. We would recognize His priceless gifts to us for all of eternity.
After we think about all that he has done for us, our minds should turn to repentance. Looking over the past week we could remember times when we had been less than perfect. We could ask the Lord to help us remember when we had lied or offended or cheated or hurt someone. And we could ask for forgiveness right then, sitting on our comfortable bench with our family next to us. We are able to humbly ask the Lord for forgiveness. It’s that simple and, yet, it’s that amazing. None of us actually know how it is done. But we can all know that it IS done. We know that it’s possible.
And, knowing that it’s possible should bring us great joy. We are then able to praise the Lord. We praise His name in song. The blessings of this day will linger in our hearts as we silently pray for the courage to accept His will. We will have a desire to listen to Him and to obey Him. We’ll have a desire to serve Him. It would be a good time to ask Him to bring into our minds how to specifically serve Him. Perhaps ask for a specific name of someone in the Ward or neighborhood whose life He would have us touch.
And having gone through this process of acknowledging the Lord, repenting, praising and being willing to follow Him, our hearts will be full. Our hearts will be overflowing with Love for the Lord. And we will be able to more perfectly walk His chosen way. We will have a desire to do His work.
The Bishop asked me to Use the Hymn, “As Now We Take the Sacrament” on Page 169 to prepare my talk for today. It is a perfect song to read and ponder before and during the sacrament. Note that it is written by a living prophet! The words and thoughts of this special hymn basically prepared my entire talk for me.
As now we take the sacrament
Our thoughts are turned to thee
Thou Son of God who lived for us
Then died on Calvary,
We contemplate thy lasting grace
Thy boundless charity
To us the gift of life was giv’n
For all eternity.
You can read the rest of the words and hopefully appreciate them as much as I do.
In this month’s Conference Ensign, Elder L. Tom Perry says, “Partaking of the sacrament is the center of our Sabbath day observance. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord commands all of us:
“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High. …
“And on this day thou shalt do none other thing.
And Elder Melvin J. Ballard said, “We want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters.
The Lord tells us, “Trifle not with sacred things. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
Brothers and sisters, in the latter days the adversary succeeds when we relax our commitment to the Savior, ignore His teachings in the New Testament and other scripture, and cease to follow Him.
I pray that we might all have a desire, and a new commitment, to think more about the sacrament. That we might use it to consistently confess our weekly sins and cleanse our hearts so that we might be more able and ready to serve the Lord.