Making Sacrament Meeting a Testimony Meeting
October 9, 2018
[ With the announcement of the new meeting schedule, it is more important than ever that sacrament meeting strengthens our discipleship. I share this Pondering with the hope of deepening our sacrament worship.]
Today I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting although it was not Fast Sunday but a regular sacrament meeting. Yet for me it was also a testimony meeting. That’s because every sacrament meeting is, or should be, a testimony meeting. For when we partake of the sacrament, we bear solemn testimony to God of our commitment to follow Christ.
This is what the Savior taught the Nephites about the sacrament. He said, “And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me” (3 Ne. 18:7). So, when I partake of the sacrament, I try to remember that, in doing so, I am bearing testimony unto the Father. This has greatly enriched and deepened the impact of the ordinance for me.
Note that nothing is said in the prayers, or elsewhere in scripture, about the sacrament as a renewal of a previous covenant made at baptism. While the covenants we make in these ordinances are similar, I think we diminish the power and meaning of the sacrament when we think of it primarily as a renewal of a past commitment rather than a present-tense, whole-hearted testimony or covenant with God here and now! The ordinance becomes more powerful for me as least as I regard it as my testimony unto God in the present.
To help me be present in the sacrament, I like to say quietly to myself, as I eat the bread and drink the water, “I do always remember.” Doing so reminds me that I am testifying unto the Father of my commitment to follow Christ. I am not just dusting off old promises. I am promising again, in present-tense language, to always remember Christ by keeping his commandments.
I am struck by the present-tense language in the prayers. In the prayer on the bread, we ask, we partake, we eat, we witness, we are willing, we always remember, we keep his commandments. The prayer on the water adds an emphatic “do” to the promise to remember: we “ do always remember.” The prayers thus invite us to be present in the ordinance; not just to re-make but to make a covenant with the Lord.
Even the language of remembering in the sacrament prayer is not simply backward looking. Yes, the sacrament powerfully points my mind back to Jesus’s great atoning sacrifice as I remember the body and blood. It also invites me to remember by being willing to take Christ’s name upon me and keep his commandments. It is a personal witness or testimony to God that I “do remember” by doing.
So, sacrament meeting is a testimony meeting. It is a time to offer sacred and solemn testimony unto the Father that I remember Christ. It is a time to covenant with God, not just remember a covenant I made many years ago. The sacrament points my mind not only back to Gethsemane and the Cross, but also to my present willingness to take the Savior’s name upon me and to keep his commandments, now and forever.
As the Atonement is a testimony of God’s love for us, the sacrament is a testimony of our love for him. As we wholeheartedly bear this testimony through the sacrament, every sacrament meeting becomes a sacred testimony meeting.