In keeping with the Caribbean Area Vision which invites us to deepen our relationship and conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, let us consider together one way we all can weekly seek so to do.
Nephi shared this timeless exhortation in his closing remarks to those who would receive his words in the latter days: “ And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow apath, I would ask if all is bdone? Behold, I say unto you, Nay;…. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life1.”
Have you ever received a new gadget or car? Do you remember how you treated it during those first few weeks or months of owning it? Do you remember if anything changed over time? Some people have a desire to care and cherish new things but as soon as the novelty of that new thing wears off, they get either bored or nonchalant about that thing. Spiritually speaking, do we fall in this category as it relates to our appreciation for and endurance in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Sometimes those special moments like baptism or ordination, over time lose their significance. At times our approach or attitude towards the gospel may be described as being spiritually apathetic or lethargic. Occasionally it may even fit this description Nephi gave:
“And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin;”2
Nephi extended his warning to those who continue with this attitude without repentance; he said:
….”Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!”3
In truth each of us needs to regularly review our spiritual state in order to evaluate whether we are currently attracting the blessings of the Lord in our lives by never allowing our gospel covenants to get old, ordinary, or boring.
President Thomas S. Monson taught, “Sacred covenants are to be revered by us, and faithfulness to them is a requirement for happiness.”4
President Nelson further taught; “When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. When that doctrine is deeply implanted in our hearts, even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened”5.
How do we then maintain the novelty of the gospel? How do we stay on the covenant path with the same vigor and vitality with which we started? How do we avoid becoming robotic, ‘going through the motions’ followers of Jesus Christ?
I would suggest what the Lord taught many years ago during his earthly ministry to the Nephites on the American continent.
“And it came to pass that Jesus commanded his disciples that they should bring forth some abread and wine unto him….. And when the disciples had come with abread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat. And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his disciples that they should take of the awine of the cup and drink of it…. And it came to pass that they did so… and were filled; Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are awilling to do that which I have commanded you….. And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in aremembrance of my body/bblood, …that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you. And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my arock”.6
The Sacrament was instituted by the Savior himself on two separate occasions; once among the Jews with his twelve disciples,7 and again among the Nephites. The Savior wanted us to know that this ordinance would replace the requirement to offer animals as sacrifices upon the altar. The sacrament table would now become the altar, and the sacrifice would be a broken heart and a contrite spirit.8
The sacrament therefore is the enduring ordnance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each week we go to the Lord to offer up our oblations and thanksgiving, renewing covenants and promises and receiving in return His spirit9.
Imagine the power that comes each week as we repair ourselves and prepare to face the Master as we offer up who we are, what we have done and how we have lived. Imagine that every week we exercise our faith, repent of our sins, and then, as though being re-baptized, we partake of the sacrament.
I testify that the sacrament is the enduring ordinance of the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was instituted by Him as our means to endure to the end. Weekly we are invited to see the gospel through fresh eyes, to feel His spirit anew and identify how we will improve and progress on the covenant path. This can be a time when we renew all our covenants10. For those of us who have remained alive after baptism, I can think of no better way to ‘press forward with a steadfastness’ in Him who is the center of Heavenly Father’s plan, the giver of all good gifts - even Jesus Christ our Savior. This we do as we come to Him weekly with an attitude of contrition and repentance.
Elder Neal A Maxwell pointedly taught that:
“One can be present at sacrament meeting but not really worship; the physical body can be there, while the mind and heart are elsewhere. In church we can join in singing the hymns while being without a song in our hearts. We can take the sacrament with hand and mouth yet not be taken in mind, at least sometimes, to Gethsemane and Calvary.”11
As we ponder the Lord’s great sacrifice I would invite reflection on the following questions:
- Does the sacrament provide this renewal for me every week?
- Do I attend my sacrament meetings with the firm desire and expectation to recommit, to be renewed and redeemed?
- If not, what can I do to have this experience every week?
I marvel at the Savior’s mercy and love in instituting this one ordinance which we can use to access His Atonement12. After all, it is His sacrifice, His laws, His gospel, His church, His priesthood and the sacrament is His ordinance. Every Sunday we can heed the Savior’s beckoning pleading invitation to ‘come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy leaden’ and I will give you ‘rest’13. This is the kind of rest that satisfies and sanctifies the soul. This is the Savior’s gift to give. Brothers and Sisters, I don’t think we can afford to live more than one week at a time without this personal gift. What better sign14 can we give to our Heavenly Father than to be absolutely committed to our weekly opportunity to exercise our faith in Jesus Christ His Beloved Son, repent of our sins, partake of the sacrament and receive His spirit to be with us. It is my prayer that we all will consider the sacrament as the most important element in our sabbath observance and worship.
On December 22, 2019, The First Presidency has invited all of us in the world-wide church to make our sacrament meeting on that day a very special and meaningful one. On this day we are invited to present our very best gifts to the Lord in music, talks and employ our very best efforts to invite as many as we can to come and see the Lord’s true church, feel of His spirit and share in His blessings. Perhaps on this day we can double the attendance to sacrament meeting.
The 2019 light the world campaign invites us to organize ourselves such that we are involved with many opportunities to serve. Leading up to December 22, 2019 members of the church should be ‘on the Lord’s errand’ and we should invite our friends and family members who are not yet members of the church to come and help in these efforts to serve. As they do they will feel the power of service and they will feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. They will minister as the Savior did one by one. With that power and feeling fresh in their minds and hearts they will respond affirmatively to our invitation to come and sit with us on December 22, 2019.
Brothers and Sisters let us all be in the spirit of repentance, service, and sharing, this Christmas season. There is a deep link between drawing closer to our Saviour and having a true desire to bless the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters. There is no better indication that we are in fact changing and becoming more like Him than this. “After all, the good in this world is done person to person. It’s not President to Pope. It’s one on one.”15 This is how the Saviour of the world did it and this is how we are being asked to do it not only now but always.
President Russell M. Nelson
- 2 Nephi 31:19-20
- 2 Nephi 28:8
- 2 Nephi 28:24
- Thomas S. Monson, “Happiness—the Universal Quest,” Ensign, Oct. 1993, 4; or Liahona, Mar. 1996, 5.
- Russel M. Nelson, “Covenants” Ensign, October 2011
- 3 Nephi 18:1- 14
- Luke 22:18-20
- 3 Nephi 9:19-20
- DC 59:8-15
- Excerpts from General Authority training April 2015: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media-library/video/sabbath-day-at-church?lang=eng#
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Men and Women of Christ”, pp. 6-7 (1926–2004)
- D&C 54:6
- Matthew 11: 28
- Exodus 31:13
- Light the world Campaign PowerPoint 2019