A Memorial for Jesus Christ

FuneralIn a 2015 training for general authorities Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have spent many hours during the past several months reviewing the research that’s available regarding Church doctrine and principles that increase faith in our Heavenly Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”[1] Clearly, our leaders have been searching out, wrestling[2], and doing their homework[3] to position themselves to receive revelation.

I must admit, when I heard this, I could not help guessing what was coming next. What did the prophets find? What would be THE answer to increase our faith in God and His Son? What would you guess? Let’s see, certainly a stronger focus on daily scripture study, in particular, the study of the Book of Mormon. Or perhaps a call to strengthen the family; to really have Family Home Evening. Or maybe an incentive to get more enrolled in seminaries and institutes. How about a return to “theologically drenched”[4] Ward Roadshows, green Jell-O, and church-wide softball tournaments.

Elder Ballard stops the guessing, “Of all of the organizational or policy changes or doctrinal training that could hasten the work of salvation at this time, we have determined that elevating the spirit and power of the Sabbath day would be most influential in drawing members and families closer to the Lord Jesus Christ.”[5]

Sabbath day observance? Never even crossed my mind. I am so grateful for modern-day, real prophets, that seek for, and receive revelation for me; and for you. That was two years ago, yet that prophetic priority continues today. If we will honor the Sabbath day, if we will make it a delight[6], the promise is more faith in Jesus Christ which leads to a stronger, all-in, type of testimony. Something we all need in today’s warfare.

As part of that effort, the most important meeting on the Sabbath is, of course, Sacrament Meeting. If we can do that right, get the most out of the renewing of our covenants, the rest of the day, and week for that matter, will follow. Here are some suggestions that will help make our Sacrament Meeting experience a “delight” and full of spiritual power.

  • Remember that Sacrament Meeting is a memorial service for the Savior[7]. In fact, think of the things there to remind us.
    • The Sacrament table, with the sacrament under the cloth, looks like it could actually be someone.
    • And in reality, His body is there. The bread is representing His body and the water reparenting His blood[8].
    • Before the meeting, the Teachers prepared the “body” of Christ. If you have ever had to opportunity to prepare a real body for burial, you know what a sacred experience that is.
    • The Priests, fold back the cloth or open the tomb to represent the resurrection of the Savior.
    • The Deacons are the pallbearers for the Lord and pass His redeeming body and blood to all of Israel.[9]

When we go to a funeral or memorial service, how do we act and feel? How do those who came to honor the deceased behave? Who do we remember? When we come to the door, how do we act? When the service is over, do we immediately start visiting with our neighbor, or do we continue to demonstrate honor and respect? How do we feel when we see the coffin? How do we feel when we see the sacrament table supporting the body and blood of the Savior? In our hearts, is sacrament meeting really a memorial service for Jesus Christ?

Truly, Sabbath Day observance opens the door to the understanding and accessing the powers of the Atonement of Jesus. May we follow the prophets and find more ways to honor the Sabbath.

[1] General Authority Training, April 2015

[2] Enos 1:2

[3] Doctrine & Covenants 9:7

[4] “Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been”, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, April 2004

[5] General Authority Training, April 2015 (Italics added)

[6] “The Sabbath Is a Delight”, Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 2015

[7] “The Sabbath Day” Chad H. Webb, August 4, 2015

[8] Doctrine & Covenants 20:77, 79

[9] Exodus 24:5, Leviticus 1:5

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