As I reflect upon my youth, I remember partaking of the Sacrament at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon” church by the media). The young men, who held the Priesthood of God, would bless the broken bread and then pass it to the congregation; they then would bless the water and likewise pass the little small cups to those in attendance. I also remember my mom wisely putting away my crayons and handing me a picture book so that I could look at pictures of Jesus during this sacred time. I didn’t yet understand the symbolism behind the sacrament (in Catholicism, and in other faiths, it may be known as Communion, or Holy Communion), but I remembered thinking that the bread tasted better than any bread I could eat at home. Not even being old enough to be baptized (age 8 for Latter-day Saints) I tried to replicate this good tasting bread in my own kitchen, by pulling a slice of bread apart into small pieces like the ones I saw at church. Then I ate it as a snack while I watched some cartoons on television. Sad to me was the fact that it didn’t taste the same! With time I came to realize that the reason why I thought it tasted so good at church wasn’t because of the size of the bread, but because of the meaning behind it all. Let me explain:
Moments before Jesus Christ entered into the Garden of Gethsemane, He, together with the Twelve Apostles, gathered in The Upper Room, where they had The Last Supper; at the end of this momentous gathering, Jesus of Nazareth instituted the Sacrament (See Matthew 26:26–29). There the Savior told His disciples to partake of the broken bread to remember the sacrifice of His body; and to drink from the cup to remember His blood that was shed for the remission of sins. While Latter-day Saints (Mormons) do not believe in transubstantiation–the literal change of the water and bread into the blood and body of Christ–we do believe that the emblems fully represent and remind us of His supreme sacrifice for our sins, and fills us with His Spirit as we re-commit to apply that sacrifice in our lives. Of course the Spirit involved in remembering the One who sacrificed His life for us would make it so a little girl would love anything (even good tasting bread) that is associated with this ordinance (a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood–God’s power on earth).
When we partake of the sacrament, we renew the covenant (an agreement between God and man) we made at baptism. In so doing we promise to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, we promise to always remember Him, and we promise to keep all of His commandments (see D&C 20:77, 79; Moroni 4:3; 5:2). With every covenant that man keeps, God gives a blessing. In the sacrament prayer we learn that the Savior covenants with us that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. What greater blessing could there be?
When the Savior died, He was “the great and last sacrifice” (See Alma 34:13). Elder Bruce R. McConkie (former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) said it prophetically when he stated, “Jesus, celebrating the Feast of the Passover, thus dignifying and fulfilling the law to the full, initiated the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Sacrifice stopped and sacrament started. It was the end of the old era, the beginning of the new. Sacrifice looked forward to the shed blood and bruised flesh of the Lamb of God. The sacrament was to be in remembrance of his spilt blood and broken flesh, the emblems, bread and wine, typifying such as completely as had the shedding of the blood of animals in their days” (McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:719–20).
Below is the Lord’s directive for the wording of the sacrament prayers, as found in a book of modern scripture known as the Doctrine and Covenants, in section 20:77, 79:
77 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 those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
79 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
The blessings of the sacrament (Communion) are more precious than any worldly thing one can even imagine. One of the glorious blessings of baptism is that we are made clean through Jesus Christ. I know I have made mistakes since I was baptized, which is why I am so grateful that every Sunday I can attend sacrament meeting to renew my baptismal covenants with God and become clean yet again—as long as I have a “broken heart and contrite spirit” (see Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ: 3 Nephi 9:20).
Written by Ashley Bell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon”), graduate of BYU in Recreation Management, wife and expectant mother residing in Taylorsville, Utah.