Friday, March 20, 2015

The Sacrament and the Atonement

by Elder James J. Hamula

Did you notice that this was the second talk on the sacrament and how important it is.  The first talk was given in the Saturday morning session by Sister Cheyl A. Esplin.  You can find my thoughts on that talk HERE.

Elder Hamula's talk begins with what I think of as The History of the Sacrament.  He gives us some background on how and why and where there sacrament was first instituted.

He says:
"Participation in this new ordinance would signify to all a solemn acceptance of Jesus as the promised Christ and whole-hearted willingness to follow Him and keep His commandments."

He also informs us how special and sacred the sacrament is and could be if we would make it so.

"The ordinance of the sacrament has been called "one of the most holy and sacred ordinances in the Church.  It needs to become more holy and sacred to each of us.  Jesus Christ Himself instituted the ordinance to remind us what He did to redeem us and to teach us how we may avail ourselves of His Redemption and thereby live with God again."

Elder Oaks and Elder Cook also commented on the sacredness and importance of the sacrament:

"The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church." Dallin H. Oaks – October 2008 – “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”
“Sacrament meeting is the most sacred and holy of all the meetings in the Church.” Quentin L. Cook – April 2010 – “We follow Jesus Christ”
(I'm not sure if I've shared this before, but I'll do it again anyway)My Stake Presidency released a letter about the Sacrament and Sacrament meeting.  Let me share with you some of that letter that I think pertains well with this talk.
"When you really think about one of the primary reasons for the “houses” of the Lord (Temples, Meetinghouses), it is to administer the “ordinances” of the gospel. And it is in the ordinances, that the “power of God is manifest” (D&C 84: 20-21). The chapel within our meetinghouses represents an “ordinance room”."
" When we enter the chapel, do we enter in a manner that demonstrates our deepest love, respect, adoration, and reverence for the immense pain, suffering, and sacrifice of our Savior for us? Do we approach this sacred ordinance in the significance it was given by our Father and His Son? Do we really understand the power, purposes, and blessings of this ordinance in our lives – especially as we navigate through the last days? Could we as a stake treat that special hour as one of the most important, reverent, special, and sacred hours of the week to show the Savior how deeply we love and need Him in our lives."
"Are we preparing and looking forward to the Sacrament as the focal point of our worship each week?"
If you're interested, you can read the letter in it's entirety HERE
In the last half of his talk, Elder Hamula gives us an explanation of the purposes of the bread, the water, and the promises mentioned in the Sacrament prayers.

THE BREAD
"In partaking of the bread, we are reminded of our own inevitable personal resurrection, which consists of more than just the restoration of body and spirit.  By the power of the Resurrection, all of us will be restored to the presence of God."

THE WATER
"Through mortality, every one of us becomes soiled with sin and transgression.  We will have had thoughts, words, and works that will have been less than virtuous.  In short, we will be unclean. . ."

"In partaking of the sacramental water, we are taught how we may be made clean from sin and transgression and thus stand in the presence of God.  By the shedding of His innocent blood, Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of justice for every sin and transgression.  He then offers to make us clean if we will have faith in Him sufficient to repent. . . "

Remember when you were in primary and the lesson was on baptism.  The teacher would ask, "Who knows what a covenant is?"  And the smart kid would say, "It's a two-way promise".  Then the teacher would bring up the chart with two columns.  In column one would be "what we promise" and in column two would be "what He promises".  Elder Hamula kind of sorta did that in his talk too. 
He broke down the prayers and expounded on what we promise and what Heavenly Father promises.

THE PRAYERS
-our promise-
"Through the sacramental prayers, we express our acceptance of this doctrine of Christ and our commitment to live according to it. . .

1.  "We will 'ALWAYS REMEMBER' His precious Son.  First, we witness our 'willingness' to remember.  Then we witness that we 'do' remember.  In so doing, we are making solemn commitments to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and in His Redemption of us from death and sin.

2. "We further declare that we will 'KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS'  that is a solemn commitment to repent.  If our thoughts, words, or actions have been less than what they should have been in days past, we recommit ourselves to more closely align our lives with His in days to come."

3. "Next, we declare that we 'ARE WILLING TO TAKE UPON [US] THE NAME OF [THE] SON'.  That is a solemn commitment to submit ourselves to His authority and to do His work, which includes receiving for ourselves every saving ordinance and covenant."

-His promise -
"When we commit ourselves to these principles, we are promised in the sacramental prayers that we will 'HAVE HIS SPIRIT TO BE WITH [US]'.  Receiving anew the Spirit is a consummate blessing because the Spirit is the agent who cleanses and purifies us from sin and transgression."

What do you do to make the Sacrament more meaningful and personal to you?

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