The Sacrament. Not just a good idea, it’s a commandment!

If you are a Christian who actively attends Sunday services, you are most likely familiar with the sacrament, what it is, and what it represents. Bread and wine (or water in an LDS church) are blessed and given to the congregation. The bread and wine represent the body and blood of the Savior Jesus Christ. We take these emblems to remember His atonement.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sacrament is taken every Sunday during the main service we creatively call sacrament meeting. There is a prayer upon the bread, which is passed, and then a prayer upon the water, which is then also passed. Aside from crying babies, there is a reverence among the congregation to respect and reflect upon Christ’s atoning sacrifice and our own devotion to Him as His disciples.

There are many reasons we take the sacrament. One: it’s a commandment. When Christ came to the Americas after His resurrection, he instituted the sacrament with the people, the Nephites and Lamanites. After blessing the bread and wine, and having everyone eat and drink it, Christ said,

And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded 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 18:10, 12)

Why are we commanded to take the emblems of Jesus’ body and blood? Well, just think what would happen if all of God’s commandments were just suggestions. Would any of us do them? Doubt it. We already have enough trouble being obedient to them when they are commandments. Christ commands us to take the sacrament because He understands that we need it. It gives us a boost, and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taking the sacrament is a renewal of our promise to God made at baptism. We promise to live a Christ-like life. We aren’t perfect at it, but taking the sacrament is helps by giving us that fresh start each Sabbath day.

The second time Jesus held a sacrament meeting with the Nephites and Lamanites, he explained to 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. (3 Nephi 20:8)

Christ is the bread of life and the living water. We may eat the literal bread and drink the literal water, but our bodies will thirst. But the bread and water taken during the sacrament has been blessed. They become emblems, symbols of Christ, and when we take them, our spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst are satisfied.

If you’re curious about the sacrament and want to understand it better, I invite you to attend an LDS church service. You’re bound to find one. We’re just about everywhere. I know the sacrament is a wonderful gift from our Savior Jesus Christ. Of all the things I do each Sunday, taking the sacrament is the most important. It’s been a blessing in my life and has given me greater spiritual strength as I take it and declare myself a disciple of Christ each week.

 

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Hypocrites!? Yes, we are.

I’ve heard a lot of different excuses for not coming to church. Some are better than others. Some are lengthy, others to the point. Some are humorous and creative, others are cliche and unimaginative. There’s one thing, however, that they all have in common. They’re excuses, not reasons. One that I’ve heard quite a few times is “everyone there is just a hypocrite!”

To a degree that is true. Hypocrites attend church. But church is not for perfect people. To those people, I usually wantto respond with something like, “Yeah, I know. So what? At least they go to church. You really think you’re any better than them? You’re not. You’re just as much of a hypocrite as them by bringing that up. Get the beam out of your own eye before you start pointing out the motes in the theirs!”

That’s not the best way to respond of course, so I keep those thoughts to myself. But it’s true. As King Benjamin says in the Book of Mormon, “are we not all beggars?” We all depend upon the same God to provide for us, whether it be food, clothing, shelter, etc. We are all on equal ground. Yes, there are hypocrites in the chapel Sunday morning, but if we’re using them as an excuse to not attend Sunday services, are we really any better than they are?

Eternal life is too precious a gift to let it depend, unncecessarily, upon the actions of others. Our Father in Heaven will not excuse our sins of ommission (things we should do that we don’t do) because the guy sitting two pews behind was a jerk.

James, in the New Testament warned us,

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned. (James 5:9)

The Savior also warned,

 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Before we point the finger at others, we must first examine ourselves. I speak also to myself, ’cause I’m certainly not perfect at this. But I do know that this is true. We are all sinners. We may sin differently, but we’re all sinners nonetheless. So don’t bother yourself with what so-and-so did or what what’s-her-face said to you. You can hold it against them all you want, but tearing down others doesn’t elevate yourself to any degree. You’re only jumping aboard their sinking ship.

So if you aren’t going to church because you think they’re all hypocrites, take a step back and see that we are all hypocrities. We must look at ourselves and do what we know to be right.

Called In His Name

We’re known by a few different names. Some call us LDS. Some call us Latter-day Saints. Most call us Mormons. A lot of people even refer to us as the “Mormon Church.” In fact, the actual name of the so-called “Mormon Church” is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think a lot of people forget this very important detail, or at least definitely overlook its significance.

The Church is not named after a random person or a mode of ministry. If Jesus Christ had a church, it would certainly be named after him, it would be The Church of Jesus Christ, which is precisely what the “Mormon Church” is. We did not come up with that nickname. In fact it began as a derogatory term which was eventually accepted by the Latter-day Saints. We don’t mind being called Mormons, but as for the title of our church, we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ. Since we are in the last days as foretold by the Bible, the add-on “of Latter-day Saints” is used.

In the Book of Mormon, when Christ came to minister to the inhabitants of the Americas, He established and organized His church just like He did in the Holy Land. There were disputations, however, concerning the name of said church. This is what Jesus said,

And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. (3 Nephi 27:8)

We are called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because we are Jesus Christ’s church. If it is His church, then it should be named after Him. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established upon the earth. We are not an American church. We are not Joseph Smith’s church. We are Jesus Christ’s original church restored after centures of spiritual darkness.

Privileges

Growing up, I attended church… mostly because my parents made me, and I liked to hang out with my friends. Church really wasn’t a spiritual thing for me, and if I could find a reason to not go, I exploited it. I remember one weekend when I was thirteen, I got a bad sunburn on my shoulders and used that as my excuse. I was convinced I had gotten away with it until a couple of my youth leaders showed up at the front door and made me come to church with them.

We moved to south-central Idaho when I was fifteen. Once again, church was more of a chore, something I was obliged to do. On top of that my family didn’t feel entirely welcome in our congregation. I made friends though, and they were the main reason I tolerated it.

Shortly after we moved, my dad lost his job and we eventually could no longer remain there. We got split up a little bit. My mom and I moved to Idaho Falls, my sister was going to college, my brother was living in Provo, Utah, and my dad moved to Salt Lake City to stay with some relatives while he looked for a job. This time around, I said “screw it” to church. Pardon the French, but that’s honestly how I felt. My mom worked just about every night, so we she was busy trying to regain her energy Sunday morning. I, on the other hand, had no such excuse. The meetinghouse was only a mile and a half away, and I could easily have attended by myself, but I didn’t. I simply didn’t care.

Did our lives fall apart? Did we lose the influence of the Spirit in our home? Etc? Etc? No. In fact, those nine months I spent there were awesome. I loved going to another new school and having new experiences. I loved the time spent with my mom; our relationship was strengthened tremendously, and the other relationships I developed have changed my life forever. I continued to grow and learn from my experiences.

My dad eventually found a job and house down in Utah, and once my school year finished we moved down. We began attending church again. I was a bit apprehensive about the whole “Utah Mormons” thing, but something strange happened. For once, I felt as though I actually belonged in that pew. I felt at home, and church quickly became an event I looked forward to, instead of dreading its arrival as I had done for so many years.

As I began to finally get something spiritual out of church, I realized what I had been missing those nine months I blew it off. Yes, my life hadn’t been terrible, but I had been missing out on spiritual growth and experiences. My life could’ve been so much better, yet I had settled for less than what I was privileged to receive. The Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity and I had only taken a small portion of it. Who knows what might’ve happened had I possessed a different attitude and looked at life through a brighter shade. Well, I know. I know I would’ve learned so much more had my heart and mind been more focused on the Lord, seeking out good things, instead of trying to run away from what I had been taught as a child.

This is just a simple example. Take from it what you would like. But so many times in our lives we live beneath our privileges. We can’t comprehend the blessings God has in store for us, if we only seek Him out and do what He has commanded us to do.

Articles of Faith VI: The Primitive Church

Number six! Ready?

 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

The Primitive Church is referring to the church Jesus Christ organized when He was on the earth. We differ than some other Christian denominations in that we do believe Christ actually had a church, and not just a bunch of great ideas to follow. And what church did Christ bring to the earth? Well, naturally if it’s His church it should be called The Church of Jesus Christ.

Hence the name of the “Mormon” church. The term Mormon is not an official term. In fact it began as a derogatory term, but was eventually used by church members themselves because… well… it’s really not offensive in any way, and it’s a convenient way to refer to Latter-day Saints. So going back to the original thought, the actual name of the “Mormon” church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Same church, same title. The “of Latter-day Saints” addition is simply to emphasize the fact that it is His restored church in the last days.

Ephesians 4:11 gives us some information on the organization of Christ’s church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Christ ordained twelve apostles, giving unto them His priesthood authority. Today, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with three others acting as a First Presidency with the current prophet Thomas S. Monson at the head. These three men essentially act in the same manner as Peter, James, and John, who were the first “First Presidency”.

I know that Jesus Christ’s church is built upon the foundation of prophets and apostles. If they were no longer needed, Christ would’ve said so. But He didn’t. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As the Great Jehovah He called prophets since the beginning of time. When He came to the earth to perform His mortal ministry He called them as a group of twelve. Why would He suddenly stop and not say a word? He didn’t and He will never do so. He is the same forever, and so His church is the same forever.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s church restored in these last days.

Fellowship

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. This is true, but this fact doesn’t give anyone an excuse to avoid attending church. Just as well, and just as the phrase implies, going to church doesn’t qualify as being enough.

The prophet Moroni in the Book of Mormon wrote,

And the church did meet together oft, to fastand to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. (Moroni 6:5)

Oh, and they also went to church…

And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus. (verse 6)

The members of the Church were together often, fasting and praying and discussing the matters of salvation. This was seperate from their actual worship services however.

Fellowshipping isn’t just about attending our meetings on Sunday and making the rounds of saying hello to everyone. It’s about being with one another, showing love and friendship, and concerning ourselves with the things that are of eternal significance.

If one is a Christian, he or she is not a Christian one hour of the week, or even one day of the week. Being a disciple of Christ is a way of life. It is just as much a part of our existence as the air we breathe.