Helping Young Men Understand the Sacrament
UNDERSTANDING: The Sacrament was instituted by the Lord, Himself. During the Last Supper, Christ partook of the final meal of sacrificial lamb knowing he would become the Great and Last Sacrifice. Yet, knowing how quickly we forget, He gave us a new way to remember him and the covenant He had taught. He broke bread and blessed it and gave it to His disciples in remembrance of his body. Then he blessed wine and gave it to them in remembrance of the blood He would shed for us.
Later, Paul reminded the Church that, with this sacrament, “ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26). Clearly the sacrament is to be observed until He comes again.
In modern revelation, the Lord has said, “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day.” (D&C 59:9-10).
Weekly, sincere participation in the sacrament helps us remain more fully unspotted from the world. The young men should understand that they have been asked to participate in an ordinance instituted by the Lord. The sacrament helps us remember Him and stay strong in the face of trials and opposition. While they pass the emblems of the sacrament they are standing on sacred ground as they serve members who are communing deeply and privately with the Savior.
ATTITUDE: Since the sacrament represents His death, when young men participate in the sacrament, they stand as if before the tomb of the Savior. How would they dress there? How would they behave?
Young deacons should understand that old age, young age and simply unexpected moments in life can create situations in any pew which may catch their attention. But young men should refrain from giggling or discussing these moments later in a disrespectful manner. Instead, they should pass the sacrament with love and respect, remembering that the Savior would not giggle or whisper about another person, no matter how awkward or unusual a moment might be. They have been called to represent Him and that is what they should do.
DRESS: If possible, clean and pressed white shirts and ties should be worn. Even if the chapel is hot, long sleeves should be worn long and button at the wrist during the passing and preparing of the sacrament; not rolled up to the elbows in a casual manner. Hair should be combed neatly and emerging facial hair should be appropriately handled.
WORTHINESS: In his recent conference address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks reminded the young men that they should be worthy to participate in this most sacred ordinance. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (D&C 38:42). How can they know if they are worthy to bear the vessels of the Lord?
Young men should understand that we all make mistakes which render us imperfect but most of those mistakes or transgressions will not keep them from passing the sacrament. Generally an argument with their parents or siblings before church usually will not cause them to be unworthy. In fact, often the very blessing they need is to humbly and prayerfully repent and participate in the sacrament. However, if the transgression is serious enough that it needs to be cleared up with priesthood authority then that person is not worthy to participate in 'bearing the vessels of the Lord' or partaking of those emblems. Those members, regardless of their age, should visit with the proper priesthood authority (see Nephi 19:26 & 28).
MISTAKES: This one is dear to my heart. The sacrament prayer is one of a few prayers that should be said precisely as the Lord commanded. Many priesthood holders stress about saying it right. I wish they could understand the great spiritual power of mistakes!
One Fast Sunday I found myself wrestling several small children into silence on the pew during the first sacrament prayer. By they time my children finally settled down, I realized the sacrament prayer was almost over. Oh, how disappointed I was. I wanted to hear the prayer and truly reflect on every word! As he concluded the blessing the bishop motioned for him to begin again.
At some point during the prayer the young priest had made a mistake. So stunned was I over the fact that the Lord had given me a second chance to hear the prayer that I sat in utter amazement for about half the prayer. Then
I realized I had been too amazed to hear it again and felt crestfallen over having lost that special chance as well. It was then that the young priest stumbled on the prayer again and was directed by the bishop to offer the prayer a third time. This time I heard and wept through every word, knowing the priest’s imperfect prayers had not been errors at all but very direct answers to my silent pleadings. The young man had said the prayer to my blessing, and that is exactly what he had been called to do.
Since that experience I tell my sons and other young men that they should never feel embarrassed by a mistake. If they stumble over the wording it may very well be that they were an instrument in the Lord’s hands in fulfilling a sacred, private need for someone in the audience to hear the prayer again.
The sacrament is truly a gift from the Lord. Weekly it can fill our sacred, private needs and it is the youngest of His priesthood holders who get training in filling sacred, private needs for others. What a wonderful position to hold every Sunday.
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