I was given the assignment to cover Sister Cheryl Esplin’s conference talk, “The Sacrament, A Renewal for the Soul” I’m going to try to expand upon her remarks, if that’s at all possible. AS I begin I’d like to quote Psalm 86:1-4
1 Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.
3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.
4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
As we partake of the Sacrament we are not only given the chance to renew our covenants with the Lord and repent of our sins, we are also given the chance as Sister Esplin said, “To renew our soul.” The ten minutes we sacrifice each Sunday to partake of the bread and water gives us an opportunity to place all our problems, questions and trials on the Lord’s alter. The Sacrament is the time to let go of all that is bringing us down. All that is preventing us from achieving our full potential in the eyes of the Lord. The sacrament is the time to put away our pride and let the atonement take over. The sacrament activates the atonement.
I’ve seen the sacrament’s healing powers in my own life. I have a condition that periodically causes my thoughts and perception of the world to become jumbled and cloudy. My body gets soo worn out from all that is happening in real life and in my mind during these periods that I have to sleep the day away on my days off. Unfortunately, I have missed some Sundays because of this and on those Sundays, I do miss taking the sacrament. I miss the quiet and focus that it brings to my mind. I miss closing my eyes and trying to find some semblance of stillness. I have tried to duplicate these feelings as I read my scriptures every night, but it’s just not the same. There is a special spirit during the passing and the taking of the sacrament. It’s the spirit of light and inspiration and as Jeffery R. Holland has taught, “One of the invitations inherent in the sacramental ordinance is that it be a truly spiritual experience. A holy communion, a renewal for the soul.”
Last Tuesday as I was driving across town to my mom’s for a visit, I was in a quandary. I have a desire to go back to school, but in order to keep my finances together I’ll have to work full-time while doing this. I was and am afraid that my body and mind will not hold up under the pressure and on that drive to my mom’s I thought seriously about quitting my job. While stopped at a red light the frustration got the better of me and I yelled, “How am I going to do this!” Thankfully, my windows were rolled up and no one heard me, but if they had, they would have either thought I was being extremely abusive to whomever I was talking to on my Bluetooth or I should have spent a little more time with my psych nurse a few weeks before. So, as the light changed and I made my way towards my mom’s I had a feeling that I should change the station on my radio from the one that plays alternative rock to the Christian station I listen to now and then on Sundays. The station was broadcasting a sermon by Rick Warren a very popular nondenominational Christian pastor. So, as I again was waiting at another red light I tried to concentrate on what he was saying to get my mind off my thoughts. As I listened he began to talk about the role of rest within the spiritual experience. He said that rest was an important element in worship. That even God had to rest on the 7th day after he created the world and that we are commanded to rest on the Sabbath. As Jesus has said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” I’ve been a member of the LDS church for 20 years and I know that the Sabbath for Latter-Day Saints is usually a busy day whether it be due to callings and other obligations. We as Latter-Day Saints don’t know how to take a reprieve now and then. At this point you’re probably wondering what rest has to do with the Sacrament. As I said earlier in my talk, the sacrament isn’t only a time to renew our covenants. It’s a time to place our worries at the Lord’s feet and by placing our worries at the Lord’s feet we are given permission to rest. To rest our minds, bodies and spirits. As Christ said in Matthew Chapter 11:28, “Come unto me all ye that labour and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
As I was walking my dog at Tom Brown Park that same Tuesday a question popped into my mind, “How can we improve the taking of the sacrament so it can be more of a renewal of the soul?” As I thought about that for a minute as my dog was sniffing something interesting on the side of the walking path, two instructions came into my mind. I’d first like to say I’m not one to over step my bounds, especially being a single woman with no children. I have a niece and nephew and it takes all I have to chase them around for 2-3 hours every month or so, so I can’t imagine how much energy it takes to do that 24 hours a day. But I feel like I need to rely this message.
So, how can we improve the taking of the sacrament so it can be more of a renewal of the soul?
1. If you’re not doing this already, married couples trade off each Sunday so you can give your partner time to concentrate on renewing their covenants and themselves. Help your companion keep the Sabbath
- To the single adults with children, I’m sure there are other single adults with children, single adults or willing older able adults who are willing to trade off with you each Sunday so you can renew yourself and your covenants.
- To those who think that they can do it all on their own, shed your pride and ask.
- To those who have the ability to help, look for those opportunities to serve the sisters and brothers around so they can take advantage of the sacrament. I know this may be very difficult for some of you. I can be an extreme introvert. It took me 2 years to be comfortable enough to not sit in the far corner in Relief Society, so I know your pain.
I’d like to end with Galatians 6:10, as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
I say this in Jesus Christ name amen