Sunday, February 27, 2011

EXPERIENCING JOY IN THE SACRAMENT -


I have recently been reading an outstanding book entitled: "Of These Emblems - Coming Closer to Christ through the Sacrament". The book has several stories by well known LDS authors. In reading some of these stories I have realized in a more powerful way the importance of preparing and partaking of the emblems of the Sacrament each Sabbath Day. One of the most important parts of the Sacrament is the word remember. This is a powerful word. We are there to remember and renew our covenants that we made with our Heavenly Father when we were baptized. We are to always remember our Savior in our daily life. We are to come with bowed heads and offer up a broken heart and contrite spirit. We are to come in an attitude of repentance with a desire to improve ourselves. We should reflect and think deeply about the purpose of the Sacrament in our lives. By doing our part we can put into effect the Atonement in our individual lives. All aspects of the Gospel of Jesus Christ point to the Atonement of the Savior.  In the Sacramental prayers we are encouraged to Remember him. Remember he loves everyone of us; that means every human being that has ever been born on this earth is cherished by our Heavenly Father and Our Savior Jesus Christ.  In our partaking of the emblems of his flesh and blood; we are to remember what he has done for us and how much he loves each of us. We can have feelings of great joy while participating in this sacred ordinance.
Not long ago in a Sacrament meeting I was pondering on some thoughts about the last hours of the Saviors life. I thought about what our beloved Savior went through as he began his journey to the Garden of Gethsemane and Golgotha. 
I took myself in thought to the upper room where the Savior met with his beloved disciples.  One of the first things that the Savior did was to gently wash each of the Apostles feet.
 
I am sure that they felt very uncomfortable in having the Savior do this service for them. Some of them would have felt embarrassed because their feet were  dirty from walking in sandals through the filthy streets of Jerusalem. Others may have felt that He was demeaning himself by His service to them. I am sure that the Apostles would have wanted to wash the Saviors feet instead of having their Master wash their feet. The Savior taught a poignant lesson in preforming this beautiful act of love; which in the end meant so much more than the disciples understood at that time. Can you even begin to imagine the sacredness of that moment. The Savior heart was full of deep love for his Apostles. They were his friends and He would be leaving them.
As he prepared and served the very first Sacrament, I imagine that the Apostles didn't understand at the time the significance of this moment. We know that the Savior served even Judas with love, fully knowing that Judas was going to betray Him. I am sure that the Savior's heart was deeply saddened by this impending betrayal.
The Savior knew that he was going to experience the most excruciating painful moments of his life in the coming hours.
As he arrived at the Garden called Gethsemane; he had with him Peter, James and John in whom he trusted and asked them to stay alert while  he went further into the Garden to pray. He checked on them once to find them asleep and again ask that they be more watchful.The Savior knew that he was going to be betrayed and arrested; he needed to complete this one final act for all mankind. Even the Apostles had no idea what their beloved Savior was going to have to experience. I personally feel that even Christ himself did not fathom what agonizing pain he would have to bare. As he knelt in prayer and prayed earnestly that he would not have to partake of this bitter cup, the Savior felt even His Father withdraw from Him and He was left alone to experience what only he could do alone for us.
As a nurse, I have watched people bleed out from various areas of their body; and just to think that the pressure upon the Savior was so severe that he bled from every pore. We can never fathom what that extreme pressure would have  felt like. It was so severe that an angel was sent to bare him up. After his sacrifice in the Garden he returned to find his disciples sleeping again; he loved them despite their weaknesses. I wonder if the Apostles had any idea that the Savior wanted them to be watchful for those who would be coming to arrest him. Knowing their love for the Savior I am sure they would have been more watchful.
The Atonement in the Garden was the ultimate of all of the suffering of the Savior. This is where His blood was shed for us. The continuing of this grueling experience I know would have been impossible to watch as these men filled with hatred towards the Savior whipped Him, spit upon Him and made a mockery of Him by putting a Royal robe upon His bruised and torn body and then in a final assault placed a crown of thorns upon his head. Finally he was forced to carry his own cross and due to loss of blood he faltered and was given assistance in the final steps to Golgotha.  The finally blow was his placement on the cross. Nails were driven into His hands, wrists and feet and then the cross was lifted and jolted into place. His position on the cross was excruciating and was the most painful of any known methods of death.
His thirst too was beyond anything that any of us have ever experienced and the only fluid offered to his swollen lips was the sting of vinegar.
One of the Hymns that reflects deeply my thoughts about the Savior during the Sacrament is, "I stand all amazed";  The first verse, "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified. That for me, a sinner he suffered, he bled and died. Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me! Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me." Our gratitude for his atonement can bring us deep feelings of wondrous joy.
The Savior's gift to us through the Atonement was a precious gift freely given. Next time you partake of the Sacrament ponder on this wondrous gift; read some of the scriptures that relate to the sacrament, ponder the words of the Sacramental hymns and prayers. Allow the Savior to take your sins and feel free of the burden. Recommit yourselves to always remember our Savior in all you do. Make the Atonement more effective in your life. Feel the joy of knowing that your broken heart and contrite spirit is acceptable to our Loving and every aware Savior, Jesus Christ.Yes, experience and feel the joy of the Sacrament.

5 comments:

Sue said...

I've been trying to make the sacrament more meaningful recently, too. It really makes a wonderful difference, doesn't it?

=)

Dolly said...

I use to teach the 12 yr.old Sunday School class down in Southern Utah, and when we spoke of the sacrament symbolism...our voices lowered, and we spoke in reverent tones. Someone pointed out that the sacrament table covered before the prayer-reminded them of Christ's covered body (before he was laid to rest. I was so touch by this thought, and have never forgotten this on Sundays.

Tiffani said...

Beautiful post mom. I love the sacrament:) It's been real reverent for me lately now that my kids know how to sit still. They are not perfect, but they do try.

Darlene said...

What a beautiful post this was. It is easy to see that you are commited to always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them. I have been trying to think about the savior more during the passing of the sacrament and I usually end up with tears in my eyes as I ponder the excruciating pain HE suffered for us. We can never imagine what it must have been like for him.

Thanks for reminding us. I truly appreciated reading this, even though we have heard and read it many times, it always moves me whenever I read about how Jesus suffered and died for us.

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