The sacrament: renewal of covenants

Thoughtful preparation enhances the ordinance

Each month, the Church News publishes a message to complement the Relief Society visiting teaching message found in the Ensign magazine. Articles on this page are based on the June 2010 theme, “Renewing Covenants Through the Sacrament.”

By Linda Bullough Church News contributor

Over the years, many roadblocks have hampered my efforts to partake of the sacrament in a worshipful manner — getting food ready for Sunday family gatherings, setting up needs for Church assignments, choir performance warm-ups, getting kids ready for Church, keeping little kids happy at Church. You name it, they were all taking my attention away from the most crucial aspect of my Sunday worship — the renewal of sacred covenants during the administration of the sacrament.

Two experiences happened in 1995 that motivated me to take the business of renewing my sacramental covenants each week more seriously.

The first was when Elder Henry B. Eyring, our newest Apostle at the time, visited our stake conference. I was the organist for that stake conference. Normally, playing prelude music is a low-stress job because people are so busy saving seats and greeting one another that they are not listening to the music.

This time was different.

Ten minutes before the meeting was to start, Elder Eyring came into the chapel with the stake presidency, walked up to the stand, sat down, folded his arms and calmly looked out over the massive congregation. The talking stopped. People sat down. For the ten minutes preceding the meeting, the only sounds that could be heard were the notes of the prelude music and the pounding of my heart as my level of nervousness grew in direct proportion to the increased attention of hundreds of people tuning in to the music. No doubt existed in anyone’s mind on that occasion that the Spirit had been invited to attend the meeting. Following Elder Eyring’s example, the people in attendance that day focused on the quiet music and prepared their hearts for the messages that would be presented.

The second experience was a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the October 1995 general conference. Elder Holland said, “Do we see [the sacrament] as our Passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption? With so much at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68).

His words resonated in my soul. Worthily renewing sacramental covenants is symbolic of my Passover; it is my means to remember and draw upon the power of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Determined to take my sacrament covenants more seriously, I set about demolishing the roadblocks that had been impeding my efforts. Through Elder Eyring’s example, I made it a goal to arrive early for Church.

To do this, I prepare food for Sunday on Saturday, iron Sunday clothes Saturday night, go to bed at a reasonable time on Saturday nights, keep set-up needs for Church assignments simpler and prepare Sunday lessons and other assignments earlier in the week.

To take the ordinance of the sacrament more seriously, as Elder Holland counseled, I say a prayer at home, before going to Church, to request the Lord’s help to focus on the purpose and symbolism of the sacrament and that I will be open to any guidance He may dispense as I renew my covenants with Him. I read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah and scripture accounts of Christ’s Atonement and Resurrection in the Four Gospels as I listen to the prelude music before the meeting.

When I do these things, I am blessed with greater spiritual focus, a mind that is more open to inspiration, a strengthening of testimony and a greater determination to “trust in his redeeming blood, and try his works to do” (“There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” Hymns, #194, 4th verse).

By Jamie Whatcott Church News contributor

Repetition finds a love-hate relationship in most people. I love eating a good bowl of ice cream as often as I can, but hate going to the dentist for yet another filling or even a simple cleaning. Repetition surrounds us daily, and Sundays are no different.

Partaking of the sacrament: a repeated act or something more?

Where do our thoughts run as the chapel quiets after the sacrament hymn is sung? The sacrament prayers are said and, in the silence of the sacrament, many things can beg for our attention. Such a repeated act every week can soon be dismissed and our minds can wander.

I love those weeks in which I focus on the reason for the repetition, to renew the covenants I have made with our Father in Heaven.

The chance to read over the sacrament hymn, ponder the words and remember every Sunday the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Each week I get to renew my desire to take upon me His name in all that I do, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments.

What heavy tasks to take on!

Good thing I have many more weeks to ask for His help and to have His Spirit with me as I work to fulfill my part of the promise.

May I continue to remember the reason for repeating the sacrament every Sunday.