One of my favorite talks from General Conference earlier this month was “Behold the Lamb of God” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. His emphasis on respecting the Sacrament made a strong impression on me.
Growing up, I could be pretty casual when it came to the Sacrament. In fact, when I was really young, I would sometimes be annoyed that I had to wait for it to be over before my mom would let me pull out my coloring notebook.
Of course, when I got older I started to see it differently, but I’m certainly guilty of not focusing on the Sacrament and just taking the bread and water as lightly as a toddler takes crackers at snack time.
I’m not going to say that I’ve never taken the Sacrament seriously. That wouldn’t be right either. But I’ve found that more often than not, I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat when I get home or that appointment I have to remember to go to on Wednesday.
This talk from Elder Holland has changed my perspective.
Here’s the part that hit me hardest:
“We are to remember in as personal a way as possible that Christ died from a heart broken by shouldering entirely alone the sins and sorrows of the whole human family. Inasmuch as we contributed to that fatal burden, such a moment demands our respect.”Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Behold the Lamb of God,” April 2019
That word “demands” just jabs my heart. It’s such a perfect word to use here.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was infinite. It covered everything – all our sins, all our pains, and any feeling we ever experience.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t get it.
I can’t grasp something that big, that powerful.
I know that Christ suffered to free us. I know that I can change and grow and become better because He did. I’ve experienced that forgiveness that comes directly from Him when He’s the only one who understands me and how to help me.
But, in spite of the fact that Jesus Christ understands me perfectly, I find, frequently, that I don’t understand His sacrifice nearly well enough. No matter how much I learn.
I think the magnitude of it is just beyond my mortal grasp. And if any part of it can be grasped in mortality, I hope I can find that part out.
The thing is, whether or not I understand Christ’s infinite sacrifice for me, the knowledge of what His sacrifice achieved is enough to demand respect.
If something is so grand and beautiful and powerful that I can’t fully understand it, how can I not at least respect it?
More than respect is required. Faith plays an even bigger role.
But in his talk, Elder Holland asks us to not only have faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but to also respect it.
Which, for me, means learning to focus on Christ and my relationship with Him through the entire Sacrament.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working to be better about that. And let me tell you, it’s definitely a challenge.
As humans, we all fall into patterns of behavior. We have certain habits and tendencies that take us through our day-to-day actions.
The same holds true for our thoughts. Those habits of thought are just as difficult to break as any habit of behavior.
And personally, I’ve found that my habits of thought during the Sacrament do not always respect it.
I know how to sit quietly during the Sacrament. I take the bread and water. So, outwardly I behave respectfully to the Sacrament. That’s a habit long-ingrained in me.
But my thoughts are all over the place.
Even though it’s a challenge to keep my thoughts focused respectfully and faithfully on Jesus Christ and His Atonement during the Sacrament, I’ve loved seeing the difference it makes when I’m more aware of my thoughts and do work to focus them better.
And the best part is, I can keep working on this every week.
The Sacrament is a symbol for sacrifice and redemption. It reminds us that we can always improve so long as we rest our hearts in Christ.
Remember the promises Jesus gave us about the Sacrament:
11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, 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.3 Nephi 18:11
I don’t know what struggle you have with the Sacrament. Or if you have any struggle with the Sacrament. But whatever your struggle may be, I promise that the Sacrament will strengthen you as you work to overcome it.
You can find a way, the way, to respect the Sacrament more. Christ offers you the way, He offers me the way, and with trust in Him and all He has done for us, however little we may comprehend it, we can be raised and bettered by Him.
This week, let’s ponder how we can implement habits of greater respect for the Sacrament. What one small thing can you start doing that would make your time during the Sacrament more meaningful to you?
Share your ideas in the comments! And have a lovely week preparing for next week’s Sacrament.