A Renewal of Covenants
For many years now I have heard in meetings and conferences around the world of the importance in partaking the Sacrament of our Lord. I have heard many who bear testimony and gratitude for the opportunity to “renew our covenants” each and every week. And, many years ago, listened to a MTC Branch President teach the new Elders and Sisters that, “The Sacrament renews all covenants because all covenants are focused on The Savior and His atonement.”
While these noble men and women have made such declarations with good intentions, I feel as Alma the Younger, and his mission companions, as they had ventured into the land of Antionum; “astonished beyond all measure.” I do not understand how such a tradition has entered into our midst without there being a detection and correction.
I would say that we should look at what it means to partake of The Sacrament.
And this shall ye always do unto those
who repent and are baptized in my name.
And ye shall do it in remembrance…
that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me.
And if ye do always remember me, ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things.
And if ye shall always do these things, blessed are ye,
for ye are built upon my rock.
3 Nephi 18:11-12
The Sacrament is a commandment from our Savior. It is to be ministered “unto those who repent and are baptized in [His] name.” It is to be done as an act of “remembrance of [His flesh and His blood];” that we are able “witness unto the Father that [we] do always remember [Him].” We are told that we must keep this commandment by meeting together oft.
Notice that our Savior does not mention renewal of the baptismal covenants which had just taken place a few days earlier for those believers. Rather, He establishes it as a commandment for those who are His Church; those who’ve repented and been baptized in His name. It is a commandment of The Lord to partake! In the words of Nephi to his brothers, “let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord.”
To Partake Unworthily
I know of a missionary who went to their Mission President and confessed that they were guilty of grave sins that hadn’t been taken care of before their entrance to the mission field. After the interview, they headed toward the office door when the Mission President paused, looked the missionary in the eye and asked, “If you were allowed to stay, would you?” The missionary, filled with hope and happiness at the thought of the possibility, said, “I want nothing more than for that to happen!”
The Mission President told them that if they were allowed to stay that it would be up to them to fight through the feelings of doubt and unworthiness and to find the hope and cleansing power of the Atonement. The Mission President then explained the process by which he would appeal for the missionary to stay. He then asked, “Do you have any questions?”
“Just one,” replied the missionary. “Should I not partake of the Sacrament?”
Brothers and Sisters, many ask the question, “Should I not partake of the Sacrament?” For many it comes from a belief that they’re unworthy, and they fear that they would “[eat] and [drink] damnation to [their] soul.”
May I offer an alternative view on the worthiness of those who would wish to keep His commandment to partake often of the Sacrament.
Therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy
to eat and drink of my flesh and blood,
ye shall forbid him.
Nevertheless ye shall not cast him out from among you,
but ye shall minister unto him
and shall pray for him unto the Father in my name.
And if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name,
then shall ye receive him
and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.
3 Nephi 18:29-30
The Lord is clear on the matter: those who are unworthy should not be permitted to partake of the emblems of His flesh and blood. How is it that one is to measure whether or not they’re worthy? I declare that the worthiness required of an individual, to partake of His Sacrament, is repentance and baptism.
All those who have repented of their sins and been baptized in His name should be found worthy to partake of His Sacrament. After all, it is in partaking of His Sacrament that we are promised that we will have His Spirit to be with us.
What of those who are guilty of grave sins?
The missionary who had confessed their sins to the Mission President was told that they would need the extra strength from God that is found in taking of The Sacrament. I echo the words of that wise Mission President: those guilty of grave sins need the extra fortification and need His Spirit more than ever!
Brothers and Sisters, as we take the Sacrament may we do so knowing that He desires to bless us with His Spirit. He promises this blessing as we come together oft and fulfill the commandment which He has given us. May we, indeed, always have His Spirit to be with us is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.