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Highlights for 3 Nephi 20-26
I’ve taken the Sacrament less times this year than any other year I can remember. What more, there were a significant number of adult years, where I took the bread and water kind of robotically (and maybe said a couple of short prayers). What I’ve missed is the opportunity to let this ordinance be as significant as it has the power to be.
During normal years, we experience the Sacrament ordinance almost every week. Sometimes, when we have this much privilege given us – it loses some of its impact. Not because we’re ungrateful or inferior, but because life has a way of crowding the best things out of our hearts.
In fact, President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “I have the feeling, I’d like to be wrong but I don’t think I am, that a very, very large percentage of the members of the Church do not realize what it means to eat a little morsel of bread, drink a little cup of water in remembrance of the shedding of the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice upon the cross.”
Here’s a sincere question for you. Has it been a while since you experienced the Sacrament as an inspirational event which rejuvenates the heart, mind and soul? It is one thing to know about an important truth in your head. But, when it is felt in your heart and being, the same understanding becomes a much deeper, lasting encounter.
Jesus Explains the Sacrament
Christ shares powerful understanding with us about the Sacrament in 3 Nephi 20:8-9
8 And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.
9 Now, when the multitude had all eaten and drunk, behold, they were filled with the Spirit; and they did cry out with one voice, and gave glory to Jesus, whom they both saw and heard.
1 The partaking of blessed bread and water directly impacts the soul. How? I love what the apostle Elder Melvin J. Ballard said about the Sacrament many years ago:
“I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load is lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food.” (Improvement Era, Oct. 1919, 1027)
2 The Sacrament helps us clear out a space and time to actively apply the Atonement in our lives. Elder John H. Groberg made a compelling observation about Christ’s last moments:
“I love the Savior. I feel that as he hung upon the cross and looked out over the dark scene, he saw more than mocking soldiers and cruel taunters. He saw more than crying women and fearful friends. He remembered and saw even more than women at wells or crowds on hills or throngs by seashores. He saw more, much more. He, who knows all and has all power, saw through the stream of time. His huge, magnanimous, loving soul encompassed all eternity and took in all people and all times and all sins and all forgiveness and all everything. Yes, he saw down to you and to me and provided us an all-encompassing opportunity to escape the terrible consequences of death and sin.” (General Conference April 1989)
It it breath-taking and soul-scrubbing for me to stop and take in this phenomenon – that someone with the caliber of the Savior consciously saw me, felt me and my sins and failures and intentionally paid for them. Yes, His awareness is that individual and personal.
I find the next verse quite interesting. The Sacrament is so pivotal, the Savior came to the Nephites often and broke bread with them:
Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them. (3 Nephi 26:13)
Personally, I know the Sacrament calls down the sacred power of the Atonement into my life and opens up a strong, direct channel to the heavens. The Sacrament ordinance cleanses us, and endows us with the fortitude to gradually change our natures. It is a time set apart for us to have our challenges, pains, confessions and fears be intimately understood and our souls filled back up with the Spirit of Christ. This ordinance can be a stellar experience if we reach for it and give it a chance.