Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament

Elder Dallin H. Oaks instructed us in his conference address concerning practices involving our administration and partaking of the sacrament.
By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77). That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path. This gift of the Holy Ghost, President Wilford Woodruff taught, “is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man” (Deseret Weekly, Apr. 6, 1889, 451).
Elder Oaks expressed concern that some do not approach the sacrament with the proper attitude of worship and reverence. He reiterates counsel intended to help us maintain that attitude. First, prepare ourselves to partake of the sacrament in quiet reverence. Elder Oaks reminds us that the sacrament was instituted to replace the blood sacrifice of live animals.

Instead, “ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20).  That commandment, repeated in the modern revelation directing us to partake of the sacrament each week, tells us how we should prepare.

Our partaking is in remembrance of the Savior's atoning sacrifice, and we should remind ourselves of that.

Our manner of dress is an important part of preparation for the sacrament, and it reflects how well we understand the importance of this sacred ordinance.

During sacrament meeting, we should avoid pursuits that would detract in any way from our reflecting on the Savior's atonement.
During sacrament meeting—and especially during the sacrament service—we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others. Even a person who slips into quiet slumber does not interfere with others. Sacrament meeting is not a time for reading books or magazines. Young people, it is not a time for whispered conversations on cell phones or for texting persons at other locations. When we partake of the sacrament, we make a sacred covenant that we will always remember the Savior. How sad to see persons obviously violating that covenant in the very meeting where they are making it.
 The music accompanying the preparation for the ordinance should be selected as a reminder of the purposes for partaking of the sacrament.

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “This is an occasion when the gospel should be presented, when we should be called upon to exercise faith, and to reflect on the mission of our Redeemer, and to spend time in the consideration of the saving principles of the gospel, and not for other purposes. Amusement, laughter, light-mindedness, are all out of place in the sacrament meetings of the Latter-day Saints. We should assemble in the spirit of prayer, of meekness, with devotion in our hearts” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:342).

The sacrament is the ordinance that replaced the blood sacrifices and burnt offerings of the Mosaic law, and with it came the Savior’s promise: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 9:20).

Elder Oaks addressed concerns specific to those who administer the ordinances.

Young men who officiate in the ordinance of the sacrament should be worthy. The Lord has said: “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:42). The scriptural warning about partaking of the sacrament unworthily (see 1 Corinthians 11:29; 3 Nephi 18:29) surely applies also to those who officiate in that ordinance. In administering discipline to Church members who have committed serious sins, a bishop can temporarily withdraw the privilege of partaking of the sacrament. That same authority is surely available to withdraw the privilege of officiating in that sacred ordinance.

Elder Oaks made it clear that long-standing counsel about how the young men should dress is still applicable.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a valuable teaching on this subject in general conference 13 years ago. Since most of our current deacons were not even born when these words were last spoken here, I repeat them for their benefit and that of their parents and teachers: “May I suggest that wherever possible a white shirt be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the sacrament. For sacred ordinances in the Church we often use ceremonial clothing, and a white shirt could be seen as a gentle reminder of the white clothing you wore in the baptismal font and an anticipation of the white shirt you will soon wear into the temple and onto your missions” (This Do in Remembrance of Me).

Elder Oaks makes the closing point that those who officiate at the sacrament table, prepare the sacrament, or pass it to the congregation should be designated by one who holds or exercises the keys of this ordinance. They must be authorized to administer this ordinance by one who holds the keys -- either bishop or branch president.


Brian said...

You're the best uncle I've got Jim =) I'm glad you're getting better man, dont scare me like that!

Brian said...


20 posts just today hah. love ya, please please remember to tell grandma and grandpa the same =)

Jim Cobabe said...


Thanks for your good comments. You guys are my best nephews, too!