Monday, July 29, 2013

11 Children & the Sacrament

As I sat in church today, I looked down my row of many children...

Abe is still out of town; it was just me and 11 kids ages 16, 11, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, & 1.

Some of the children were mine, some were children we brought, and some were children who came without their parents.

We were sitting on the second row right in the center isle.  (I'll actually rethink that location next week.) I didn't want to draw any attention to us, so I was working hard to keep everyone reverent.  Baby Jayden drew the most attention.  He sported a big gash across his forehead and a recovering busted lip.  Jayden is a constant ball of energy which includes many mishaps.  He sees life as a constant party, and it is intense business trying to trick him into believing that sitting on my lap during church is where the party really is.

The sacramental prayers were said, and we partook of the bread and the water.  I busily made sure the babies didn't take a whole handful of bread or pour the water on someone's lap as I reminded the older ones to sit up with respect and not lean their heads on the pew in front of them.

After I passed the tray down, Jordan leaned over to tell me something.  I almost hushed him but decided to listen.  Jordan said, "Jayden is perfect right now."  Thinking he was referring to Jayden as being perfect because he's a baby, I said, "Yep!  He sure is!'

Jordan continued, "...and you are perfect right now too."  Already feeling the weight of every child's irreverence, I knew it would take a big, giant stretch for anyone's imagination to picture me anywhere even remotely close to a state of perfection.  I already felt like a million eyes were on our busy row.  I looked at him a bit strange, and he continued on in a whisper, "You just took the sacrament, so right now you're perfect."  (We believe we have the opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants every time we sincerely take the sacrament.)

Jordan is not even baptized yet; he turns 8 years old in October.  Just yesterday, I thought in my mind, "I remember my older boys showing signs of spiritual maturity as they neared their baptismal age of 8 years old.  I wonder if Jordan will do the same."

What a miracle that my little Jordan spoke of such an understanding of the sacrament and baptismal covenants less than a day after I had the question in my mind.  I always knew he would want to be baptized, but his ability to pay extra close attention to the covenant involved took his understanding to another level. Here he was reminding me of my baptismal covenants.

Immediately after he spoke his message, an enormous shift in my perspective took place; realization and remembrance of the purpose of the sacrament replaced my busy thoughts, and I felt hope and renewal!!

I physically sat up taller!  I didn't need to hold on to my mistakes of the past week.  I could release them to my Savior at that very moment; and with a bright future ahead of me, I could try even harder to be a tad closer to who my Savior intended me to be.  That physically strengthening shift of perspective was a miracle to me!

In the June 2010 Ensign, the visiting teaching message teaches a sweet message:

We Renew Our Baptismal Covenants through the Sacrament

“When we are baptized, we take upon ourselves the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Taking upon us His name is one of the most significant experiences we have in life. …
“Each week in sacrament meeting we promise to remember the atoning sacrifice of our Savior as we renew our baptismal covenant. We promise to do as the Savior did—to be obedient to the Father and always keep His commandments. The blessing we receive in return is to always have His Spirit to be with us.” 2

If I take the sacrament with the proper attitude and preparation, I am becoming whole and perfected in Christ.

I read an article from the January 1978 Ensign which better explained our weekly efforts towards our goal to be like Christ.  It is entitled, "The Sacrament and Covenant Making" by W. Cole Durham Jr.

"Once we begin to think of the sacrament as a time when we renew our covenants by bringing a renewed and ever-deeper offering of humility, action, and increasing commitment, we realize that learning to partake of the sacrament in the fullest sense requires far more than passive participation in the sacrament each Sunday. It is a task that reaches out and comprehends all aspects of our lives. That is not surprising. The covenants renewed by the sacrament ultimately demand that we render our “whole souls as an offering unto [Christ].” (Omni 1:26.)
But it can be an overwhelming prospect, until we realize that the sacrament itself is designed to carve up the process of perfection into manageable week-long segments. The task of learning to partake of the sacrament thus fuses with the challenge of perfection. It is a means that allows the Lord to take us by the hand, cleanse our souls, lighten our burdens, and lead us in his ways. In this sense, learning to partake becomes a matter of learning to respond through faith to the transforming power of the Lord’s atonement.
Conceived in this way, the sacrament becomes a dynamic process of covenant-making—of remembrance and recommitment that helps us in our upward struggle toward perfection. The process becomes a way of answering affirmatively the piercing question asked by Alma: “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26; italics added.) Speaking to precisely this issue, King Benjamin taught his people that it is through remembering God and showing steadfast commitment that we become capable of always feeling the redeeming love of which Alma spoke: “If ye have known of [God’s] goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceeding great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of [the atonement] which is to come. …"

I believe in the power of baptism, and I believe in the power of the sacrament and in remembering my Savior's infinite sacrifice and partnership made possible through baptism.  I believe in Christ.