“See that ye are not baptized unworthily; see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily; but see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.” (Mormon 9:29)
Sacrament – sacra-ment. Sacra- is the same word as sacred. Or, more accurately it comes from the Latin sacrare, which means to consecrate (or to make sacred). -ment is a modifier that turns a verb into a noun. It means “the action or result of what is denoted by the verb” (source). This means that partaking of the sacrament is to partake of something holy, something consecrated, that in turn helps us be holy and consecrated. The sacrament is thus both sanctified and sanctifying. This scripture in Mormon has an important phrase: “the sacrament of Christ.” It is Christ’s sacrament. He gave it unto us and His atonement gives it the power it has. We eat and drink in remembrance of His body and blood. It is sanctified and sanctifying through Jesus’ Atonement.
The sacrament is an ordinance that is meant to help us become sacred. Being sacred is to be sanctified and holy and set apart. It is a calling of chosenness – a responsibility to shine as an example unto others and help them know the way by which they too can become sanctified and sacred. Being chosen or set apart is not a pandering to vanity, it is a call to responsibility. As we partake of the setting apart of the sacrament, we should feel a greater responsibility for our actions. We should feel like the brothers Jacob and Joseph: “And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day” (Jacob 1:19). We must act with all diligence.
Today when we partake of the sacrament, what are the covenants we make? We promise our Father in Heaven that we will:
- Take upon us the name of Christ.
- Always remember Christ.
- Keep the commandments of Christ.
First, I think it is important to note that we make these promises to Heavenly Father. Just as we pray to the Father (in the name of Christ) so do we covenant with the Father (in the name of Christ) as we partake of the sacrament. We first promise that we will take upon us Christ’s name. That is a heavy responsibility! As Christians we should emulate Christ. We should take upon us His name by our words and actions. When we are baptized and confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we reject the old man or woman of sin and become new creatures in Christ. The old “us” dies and is buried and the new “us” arises as a spiritual child of Christ. We can then become heirs and joint-heirs with Christ (see Romans 8:17).
We also promise to always remember the Savior and keep His commandments. Those are no two small tasks but that is what is required of us. Those are terms many or all of us accepted before this life and they are terms that all will have the opportunity to accept in this life or in the next. As we accept and keep these promises we will always have Christ’s Spirit with us. He is bound by the covenant when we do what He asks (see D&C; 82:10).
The sacrament is a holy ordinance with which we make covenants with our Father in Heaven in the name of Christ. As we partake of it worthily and remain true to the covenants we make the sanctified bread and water will be sanctifying unto us.