| Kayla T., 24, California | From an upper room in Jerusalem, to the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York, to many millions of homes in the last few weeks, the sacrament has been administered.
For the general majority of us, sacrament meetings prior to March 15, 2020, often looked like large meeting halls, side by side with hundreds of people that we may or may not know vaguely, if at all, intimately. We could have been distracted by heat, small children, attractive possible mates, and a number of other things. We could have slipped in and out of the meeting without much more being said than, “Amen.”
All in all, there could have been a hundred things that filled our minds besides the purpose of our sabbath day worship; to partake of the ordinance of the sacrament.
Now, to help protect public health, people all over the world have been living a life of quarantine. Life at home has become the norm, including church at home.
The Sabbath day now may filled with quiet assembly into a small room, with one slice of bread and a few cups on a small table. The people in the room, we almost always know very intimately. And our distractions have been limited to our own minds and some small noises outside our homes.
With these changes, we bow our heads in gratitude as we watch the Lord teach us the beauty and sacredness of the sacrament ordinance in our homes and the part we play.
Interestingly enough, Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk in the April 2019 conference, entitled “Behold the Lamb of God,” that focused on the sacrament ordinance after the recent change from three hours, to two-hour church meetings.
My beloved brothers and sisters, with the exciting new emphasis on increased gospel learning in the home, it is crucial for us to remember that we are still commanded to ‘go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day.’ In addition to making time for more home-centered gospel instruction, our modified Sunday service is also to reduce the complexity of the meeting schedule in a way that properly emphasizes the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as the sacred, acknowledged focal point of our weekly worship experience.”
Elder Holland taught that with the change to two-hour church, our focus should be shifted more towards the sacrament. Now, with the change to holding church services at home, our focus can be more refined to the sacrament and its power in our homes and lives.
The Souls I Know
During this time, I’ve come to see some of the simple sacred truths that the sacrament offer, as I’m sure many of us have been able to witness.
On the very first Sunday we had the sacrament in my home, after partaking of the sacrament my ten-year-old brother said, “Why can’t every week be like this? I feel the Spirit so strongly!”
I began to wonder what could have made the Spirit so strong I the home that seemed not to be as strong as sacraments in church buildings. I began to ponder about the words within the sacrament prayer, “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread, to the souls of all who partake of it.”
How interesting is this phrase!
In any normal sacrament, I might know a few hundred names of those in my ward, but to know the very souls of those who partake of the sacrament is something I can say I’ve only experienced in my home.
Looking around the room, I personally know “who may have wept—outwardly or inwardly— throughout the entire sacramental hymn and the prayers of those priests” I know who is “the weeping, struggling member who is not in the service and, except for some redemptive ministering on our part, won’t be there next week either.”
I know who I fought the most with that week, or who I haven’t really been grateful for. Living with the same people I take the sacrament with each week allows me to truly see the souls of all who partake of the sacrament.
This kind of personal sacrament allows me to more deeply evaluate how I’ve done keeping the covenant I’ve made with my Heavenly Father throughout the week with my family. To see how well I have “taken upon [me] the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, and always remember[ed] him, and [kept] his commandments which he has given [me].” To see how well I am caring for “the souls of all those who partake” of our home sacrament.
The Power of the Ordinance
Another key lesson I’ve learned from this special quarantine time is that the sacrament does not lose its power from the sacrament table in the chapel hall to our family living room.
The Lord teaches us in Doctrine and Covenants 84: 20 that “therefore in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.”
The verse doesn’t say “in the chapel thereof, or the home thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.” Where we have the sacrament doesn’t affect the power of the sacrament.
God can bless us with the divine gift of forgiveness through the sacrament no matter where we are. His power, the power of godliness is made available to us as we participate in the ordinances that He has given us. How merciful God is to us!
Yet Elder David A. Bednar reminds us, “The act of partaking of the sacrament, in and of itself, does not remit sins. But as we prepare conscientiously and participate in this holy ordinance with a broken heart and contrite spirit, then the promise is that we may always have the Spirit to be with us.”
My ten-year-old brother couldn’t understand quite what he was feeling the first time we had the sacrament in our home. But I think the two reasons described above took part in it. He knew everyone in our living room, and we all knew him. We had all taken measures to create a peaceful environment that Sunday morning and earlier that week to make taking the sacrament at home a special experience.
And truly it was.
The Spirit we felt that day came from God’s power from the holy ordinance of the sacrament on a little table with one slice of bread and a few cups of water. Those simple sacred symbols have helped remind us of our Saviors sacrifice each week from the chapel to our homes.
Now as we ease back into returning to our chapels, may we remember some of the sacred lessons we have learned about the sacrament from our time at home. May we keep the sacrament ordinance at the heart of our sabbath day worship and seek to find more to give to the Lord, Jesus Christ as a symbol of our worship.