The Sacrament (part 1)

kenneth cope - FaceToFace-cover

For some years now, I’ve felt an increasing concern about a particular view we seem to focus on in much of the Church about the ordinance of the sacrament… Just over a year and a half ago, when I started the blog series, “Practice Makes Progress, Jesus Makes Perfect”, I intended on discussing this very topic. But after a number of preparatory entries, the series got put on hold and I wasn’t able to share my thoughts with you. Well, today, I am going to share them. It is time.

As I have asked the question or heard it asked in a classroom setting of either adults or youth: “What is the purpose of the sacrament?”, the answer that always comes, more than any other, and usually before any other, is: “To renew our baptismal covenants.” Now, renewing our baptismal covenants is certainly a wonderful concept. And, many among us, studying the Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants may have noticed some similarities between the requirements of worthiness for baptism, and what we give witness to in the sacramental prayers. However,…and please don’t misunderstand me…I am not saying that this thinking is inappropriate, or a bad idea, or incorrect doctrine; when we take the sacrament, we can renew our baptismal covenants, and even all our covenants for that matter. Still, is that the Lord’s declared purpose for the sacrament? I have found myself concerned that the catchphrase “renewing our covenants” might not only become our first response, but soon our only response to the question: “What is the purpose of the sacrament?” And yet, if we look in our Holy Scriptures, when Jesus or His prophets speak of the express purpose of the sacrament, the phrase “renewing our covenants” is never articulated. Not even once.

Let’s look at the prayer:
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of [their baptismal covenants]…”

No…rather, it’s:
In remembrance of “the body of Thy Son” or “the blood of Thy Son.” The prayers themselves tell us that it’s about Jesus…His glorious name, our remembering Him, and our willingness to do what He commands. And each prayer ends with this assurance: that we may always have Jesus’ Spirit to be with us.

Again, it’s about Jesus!

(JST) MATTHEW 26: 26-28; MARK 14: 22-24; LUKE 22: 19-20
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.
And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying:
This cup is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins. And they all drank of it.

To many of the Nephites who remained alive after the destruction on this hemisphere, the risen Christ repeated the ordinance. After administering the bread, Jesus said, “…this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you. Then He administered the wine and said unto them, “Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you. And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (See 3 Nephi 18: 3-11).

Later, we read, “…the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them” (3 Nephi 26: 13). Jesus wanted the people to remember Him, and He continued to show up and give them the sacrament for that very purpose!

The Apostle Paul, years after our Savior’s sacrifice wrote:
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26). Notice, Paul said, in taking the sacrament, we show or give witness to the Lord’s death. It’s first and foremost about the Lord Jesus, not about us.

Other scriptures:
“…when ye partake of the sacrament…do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins” (D&C 27: 2).

“And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (Moroni 6: 6).

“It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (D&C 20: 75).

“He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled” (3 Nephi 20: 8).

“…to administer bread and wine—emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ” (D&C 20: 40).

“…administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church” (Moroni 4: 1).

Several years ago, I attended a convert baptism. An adult was giving a talk about baptism, and spoke about the sacrament in the process. Addressing the baptismal candidate, the speaker asked: “And after today, why will you take the sacrament each week?” after a pause of silence, the adult said: “We’ve talked about this, remember? You will take the sacrament to renew the covenants and promises you make here at your baptism.” That was it. No mention of what Christ did for this new convert.

Reflecting on this issue, I have wondered: What is it with us as a people? I know that our efforts are important to the Lord. He has made that abundantly clear. But even when He directs us, by the words of His own mouth, to think a certain way about something, why do we somehow feel the need to bring it back to where we think it should be? Perhaps it starts out: ”The sacrament helps us remember Jesus’ atonement”…then it moves on to, “But the atonement wouldn’t do us any good if we don’t measure up and keep Jesus’ commandments”… and finally it ends up at, “So the sacrament helps us recommit to keep the commandments or renew our covenants.” Pretty soon, Jesus is out of the picture when it comes to our response to: “Why do we take the sacrament?” I wonder: Is there no place in our lives where Jesus can stand alone for a few moments…where He can occupy the entirety of our thinking and rejoicing and delight, for even ten or twenty minutes, without us always bringing ourselves and our performance back to the forefront?

I can almost hear Jesus saying: ‘In all your looking back at your covenants, in all your renewing of your promises…in all your remembering what you’ve done…will you remember me? Remember what I have done…my body, bruised, broken, and torn for you…the abuse, the humiliation, the agony…Remember my blood, which flowed out of me…that your sins might not soil your life…that you might be clean. In all your remembering, remember me.’

“The bread and water represent His sacrifice for sin; Ye Saints, partake and testify Ye do remember him” (Hymn #182, verse 4).

We are supposed to worship at church. The sacrament meeting is designated as our worship service. Well…whom are we worshipping if our first thought regarding the sacrament is our performance—our keeping of our covenants, rather than Jesus’ performance? He is the reason we even have covenants and promised blessings in the first place? There would be no covenants, no extended arm of mercy, no power from on high, if it weren’t for the exquisite suffering He, alone, bore for each of us. Let us remember Him! Let us worship Him!

Consider the potential power in just saying a prayer of gratitude from time to time—not asking the Lord for ANYTHING, but just giving thanks. Have you tried it and noticed how your heart swells with love and spontaneous worship? Well, in that same vein, there’s potential power in the sacrament being only about Jesus, and not about us!

Of course we want to rededicate ourselves. Of course we want to renew our commitments to be faithful followers of the Lord. But wouldn’t the desire for that recommitment be more powerful within us if we came to more fully appreciate what our beloved Savior so unselfishly did for us? And how does that appreciation grow? It expands as we humbly and prayerfully ponder what He did. The Spirit causes it to well up within us as we remember Him, and reflect upon His matchless love, the generosity of His offering, and the horrendous agony He willingly endured in our behalf!

Now, if you really desire to renew your covenants, then by all means, renew them. But realize, you can do that anywhere and at any time. You don’t need to be in a sacrament meeting to do that. Recommit yourself to the Lord while you kneel beside your bed, or while you are at the temple, or while you attend someone’s baptism, or while you feel the Spirit when reading the scriptures, or when you are being moved by glorious, inspirational music. You don’t have to wait to take the sacrament to renew your covenants. The sacrament is an ordinance, but according to the Lord’s own word found in our Holy Scriptures, it was not designated as an ordinance for renewing covenants. Rather, He spoke of it as an ordinance instituted for remembering…but not remembering you; instead, it is to remember HIM, and what He has done for us. Those were His instructions, and I am going to do my best to follow what He said.

(to be continued…)

77 Responses to The Sacrament (part 1)

  1. Tammie

    Hello :)
    I want to thank you for such a wonderful and powerful reminder of what the sacrament is for. I am guilty of spending those few minutes during the sacrament thinking about me…what can I do to help others, help me to forgive another, help me be strong during my sad moments. Not as often as should be have I spent the whole time in grateful thought about Jesus and what he has done for me so that I can be a servant in his hand. Thank you!

    • Thanks for your sweetness, Tammie! I’m glad if it could be helpful in any way. You are ALREADY a lovely disciple of our Lord, and I have no doubt that He knows what He means to your faithful heart! :)

  2. Laurel Lund

    Kenneth, As a convert to the LDS faith, I always pass the sacrament to my children and whisper to them, “Take this in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s body and blood which was shed for you.” Others give a strange look, but I know it is important that they learn this. There are no crucifixes to teach the kids, few hymns that mention his rugged cross. If they dont learn why sacrament is reverant and sacred, we have lost a huge part of our faith as followers of Christ. Keep blogging, you are speaking truth. Your sister in Christ, Laurel Cook Lund

    • Hi dear Laurel!
      Keep doing what you are doing. Bring your beautiful passion for the Lord into the lives of all who know you, your ward family, etc. We are all here to be ourselves…but our best selves with the blessing, grace, and power of the Savior transforming us into His beautiful image. Sincere devotion is powerful, and your children, as well as many of your ward family will thank you for your loving regard of your Lord and His rugged cross! I just know it! :)

  3. Kay Long

    This was perfect! We all need to read and study this piece and then practice it and perfect it. I’m convinced that if we think deeply about the sacrament hymns, that would help us to remember HIM and HIS great sacrifice as we have those few moments each week to partake of this sacred ordinance. The hymns many times just melt my heart – I love the sacrament hymns and when we sing them each week, I try to keep my mind focused on the words…and when I do that the Spirit becomes very strong. Thank you for this beautiful lesson you have taught. Love Always, Kenneth.

    • Hi dear Kay!!!
      Those sacrament hymns really get me too! Sometimes I can’t even sing, I am so overcome. Or the tears are so thick I can no longer see the hymnal. So much power in a divine message nestled in beautiful music!
      I miss you and brother Kay and your family!
      Love, love, love! :)

  4. Heidi Coleman

    Thank you for the reminder…

    It is about His Atonement, not the pain, emotional or physical that I might feel tempted to think of as my own, for He is with each of us in each of the moments we call upon Him.

    It really is humbling then to remember that it is not myself who can take away for Him, what I would never want for my elder brother to endure (except I can remember to do better myself, to take patience unto obedience in my own choices and accountability).

    …so many times I have hoped to be able to do that for Him, to take away His pain, to fill his heart with joy instead of what I see in the painting so often seen of His Second Coming as depicted for having served and given to each of our Father’s sons and daughters. His long-suffering with Father in Heaven, on my behalf.

    I am so thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and hope so much for honor to be brought back to God, our Eternal Father, our Heavenly Father! ;0)

    • Yes, Heidi, but don’t discount the beauty and value of your own pain…for through it, you are closer to knowing your Lord than without it. He suffered that He might, according to the flesh, know us. And if we allow it, we suffer that we might know Him, and our brothers and sisters around us. Pain is universal, and if we let it, if fills us with compassion for others, brings Christ closer, and eternally heightens our joys!
      Your testimony is beautiful, Heidi! Thanks for sharing it with me. :)

  5. Joseph Marrow

    I’ve waited for this for so long. This is awesome and kinda answers questions I’ve had recently.

    Thank You Kenneth

  6. Ken Nunez

    An excellent reminder Kenneth! It’s primarily all about Him, Jesus Christ… and not about us. Thanks for your thoughtful insights on this topic.

    • Thank you, Ken. :)
      It is so interesting…for us, it should be all about Him…and yet for Him, it is all about us. The beauty of divine love!
      Blessings to you, brother! :)

  7. Jason Woodbury

    You are correct. You say in the introductory paragraph that “renewing your covenants” is not mentioned once in the “Holy Scriptures.”
    There are many things not mentioned ie. The Holy Scriptures that have been revealed in the latter days.
    I am including a link to this year’s Aaronic Priesthood Lesson manual that specifically states we DO renew our baptismal covenant each time we partake of the sacrament.
    Other than that, you are correct. We should be thinking about Jesus during the sacrament.

    • Hi Jason!
      Yes, we have many beautiful things revealed in these latter days, don’t we. Even the sacrament prayers themselves. What a blessing! :)

  8. Lynn Henry

    Extremely well written and stated my old friend. Thank you so much for taking the time for the research, and then to write this beautiful and elegant explanation of the Sacrament.

    I’m especially moved by your declaration: “…if you really desire to renew your covenants, then by all means, renew them. But realize, you can do that anywhere and at any time. You don’t need to be in a sacrament meeting to do that.”

    Thanks again!

  9. Jim vein

    Thank you so much my friend for a great insight about the sacrament. It means a lot and remembering him is what it is about. He has done so much for us. Is it too much to ask for us to remember him? After all, he did all this for us. So I am glad you wrote this..

  10. Heidi Anderson

    Thank you so much for this inspired blog. I was BIC, but have struggled for so many years trying to understand the sacrament and my role in partaking of it. I have learned that if I read the hymn “I Stand All Amazed” I am thinking more of my Savior and what He has done for me. Your blog makes me want to teach my youth Sunday School class more about the sacrament and what it truly means. You have no idea how much this blog has touched my heart. My sacrament meetings are going to be much more fruitful now. Thank you.

    • Oh, Heidi!
      The sacrament is about Jesus…but it is for you. He prescribed it as a way to help keep you close, as you remember Him and feel your heart drawn out to Him in love. You are cherished. You are His! :)

  11. Lisa Harper

    Hi Kenneth. Thank you for writing this. It was so inspiring and I found myself drinking in every word you were saying. When I take the Sacrament, after the first prayer I think about what I need to repent of and what I can do better and then after the final prayer I reread the words of the hymn and focus on what the message is and on Christ. Your words though have helped me see that my focus needs to be even more on Christ and what He did for me. Why, oh why do we so easily forget? Thank you. It’s great to see you back btw!:)

    • Hi Lisa!
      You are already doing more than many others. That doesn’t make you better than them, it only shows the true desire of your heart to draw near unto Him. And yes, when we FOCUS on what He did for us, and why, our hearts can’t help but be moved. It may take some effort on our part to keep it fresh…worship can be work, like prayer, or fasting, or exercising faith. But you will also be blessed with spontaneous outbursts of love, filling you up to overflowing! May it be so for you, often!!!
      Wishing you every blessing He wants to give! :)

  12. Tyson


    I agree there is a deeper purpose and meaning to the sacrament than “renewing our covenants.”
    That said, I’m a primary teacher and when we teach them about the sacrament, we do indeed teach them about renewing their covenants.
    Of course that’s an important part of it.
    What does renewing my baptismal covenants mean to me?
    It means I am remembering that I was baptized and that I was baptized because I believe in the gospel. I believe that Jesus Christ died for me. I believe that his sacrifice is real. I remember that it is because of his sacrifice, I can return to him. But I need to do my part.
    My part?
    To remember him.
    To follow the commandments.
    To remember that he died for me so that I can live again.
    And taking the sacrament reinforces and reminds me of what I need to do and how I need to do it.
    I understand your point, that we need to look at the deeper meaning, but for those that aren’t to that point in the gospel, (particularly kids) I think the “renewing our covenants” is great!
    As we mature in the gospel and progress, we will come to see how this great event can be applied in our life and as we do this, we are able to mature and progress and more completely understand the infinite atonement.

    • Thanks, Tyson!
      You must absolutely LOVE teaching those children! Keep it up. Keep giving yourself to them. They will remember you the rest of their lives.
      They are naturally drawn to Jesus. And they are smarter than people think. Don’t be afraid to share any of the deeper things you can…the Spirit is a powerful teacher, as I’m sure you know. :)

  13. Gretchen

    I read a very good post that relates to this by a great LDS Blogger who calls himself MMM–Middle Aged Mormon Man. He called it “The Death of Amen”. His point was that when we participate in the Sacrament, we need to say Amen as a sign that we ARE agreeing to the things said in the prayer and we aren’t truly doing that unless we speak up.

    • Hi Gretchen!
      “The Death of Amen.” I like that…not that it’s happened, but his insight and what he is sharing with us.
      Thanks for letting me know.
      Have a most wonderful day!! :)

  14. Jason Noel

    I saw this pop up on my Facebook feed and became interested immediately. I have had the sacrament in the back of my mind since reading some New Testament scripture. Most of us do give the same basic answers we have heard repeated. I do believe that the Sacrament prayer and partaking of the emblems are more sacred than we realize. We are making a promise to remember Him. But more than that, as true with all promises we make, He promises to be with us as we take the Sacrament during that hour. I came across this when studying Mark 14:22 and noticed a JST there. When I read this, it occurred to me that there is so much more to the Sacrament than I realized. That it was also the time for me to have Him with me as I think of Him. What a glorious blessing we have before us each week.

    • I LOVE this, Jason!!!
      “This hour that I was with you.” Great insight! Thanks for sharing. Of course, who wouldn’t want to know and feel and have Jesus with them during the sacrament?
      May He be with each of us, as we really try to remember Him and connect with Him!
      Blessings to you, brother! :)

  15. Ellis Hadlock

    When I take the bread, I say a prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the Savior, and remember his body that he gave up and died for us, so that we can live again. That he was resurrected, that we can all be resurrected. When I take the water, I say a prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the Savior, and remember his blood that he shed for us, that he suffered and atoned for all our sins, so we can repent and have the opportunity to be with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again. To remember the Savior’s perfect life, to follow him, making all these blessings possible because of him.

    • So beautiful, Ellis!
      Great ideas. To pray again, even after the formal prayer, like you do, is just beautiful! I am confident that God blesses you a lot as you make those efforts to really see, and feel, and connect. Jesus did say, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” Take Him at His word! :)

  16. Lisa Olsen

    Thank you for sharing this message! You have always helped me to remember to bring it all back to my Savior! Our stk president just talked to us at ward conference about how the sacrament is the center of our meetings! We are there to take the sacrament. I wish there was more talk about remembering him…but maybe in testimony meeting I will share my thoughts. Funny thing… All the time growing up my dad would lean over to me and my brothers and say, look at Jesus…when they used to have pictures of him in the Chapel….so we would and I would think about Him. It was nice and I think I will start telling that to my children. To remember all He has done for us, not just what we need to do for Him! Loves to you and your family! Miss you!

    • Hi Lisa!!!!!!!!!
      I would LOVE to be fly on the wall and hear your testimony!
      You are so dear! Knowing you all these years…I have a pretty good idea about the integrity and loveliness of your heart. So, Jesus REALLY knows your heart, and must be so pleased!
      Love to you, Bart, and your little ones. :)
      P.S. Take your own pictures of Jesus to church so your kids can see Him. :)

  17. Rebecca Miller

    So if what I understand you are saying is correct, then it is that our thoughts surrounding baptism need to change. We are recommitting ourselves every week when we partake of the sacrament to live the covenants we made at baptism. So baptismal ordinances need to focus on what the Savior has done to Atone for our sins, and that only by him and through him can we receive a remission of our sins. When we accept the power of the Atonement, and His Grace into our lives, only then will we be forgiven for our sins. Both ordinances are outward expressions of our inward commitment to take His Name upon us and always remember Him. Bishop interviews and baptismal services do not always clearly express the eternal covenant we are making. Partaking of the sacrament then gives us the opportunity as we grow and mature to change what we need to in order to keep our covenants.

    • Hi Rebecca!
      Thanks for this. Yes, gratefully, baptism and all the ordinances point us to the Lord, what He did for us, and what He offers us.
      Sounds like you live your life true to that vision.
      Great blessings to you!!! :)

  18. Wow! Great insight Kenneth! I love it! So true, we always focus too much on “our” performance and rarely truly remember He who did it all for us. Kudos my friend.


    • Hey Michael!
      Thanks for taking the time to send me a quick message. I hope you and Eve are well.
      Thanks for the lovely example you have been to me all these years…for keeping Jesus right in the middle of your very successful life.
      Love you, bro! :)

  19. Jeff G

    This is a good reminder that we should be very focused on the Savior when we take the sacrament. At the same time, the Church does teach that we take the sacrament to renew baptismal covenants. After reading this blog, I skimmed over the lesson on The Sacrament from Gospel Principles – the manual used to teach new member and investigators. It spends a lot of time reminding us to remember the Savior and his atoning sacrifice and covers the covenants we make – and renew – when we partake of the sacrament.

    Chapter 23: The Sacrament

    • Hi Jeff!
      Yes…love that focus on the Savior, and remembering Him! Thanks for recognizing and mentioning it first. :)
      Wishing you every good thing!

  20. James crane

    The concept that the sacrament is a way to renew baptismal covenants is proclaimed by church leaders frequently during conference .

  21. Mike McVey

    Very thought provoking. The focus of the sacrament should always be the Savior, but doctrinally, it is a renewal of the baptismal covenant.

    • Hi Mike!
      Thanks for your view. :)

      • Hvidovre

        To help with this great article and thought regarding renewing or remembering our covenants and the Savior during the sacrament…this past April conference, under the direction of the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles held a two-day training. One of the Subjects was “Making the Sabbath more meaningful for individuals and families at church and in the home.” One change is to use the ward council in planning sacrament meetings. Plus all wards have been asked to have sacrament meeting first. There is a training video that has been passed down from this training to us in the ward. Everything you discussed in your article and in comments was covered in this video. I really like how you explain the Sacrament. Thanks and very timely.

  22. Wendy

    This was beautiful, and very timely. I have one question that I’ve been wondering about for a while. Over the last five years or so, I have heard several local speakers take that “renew our baptismal covenants” approach. They have also said something like, “You say you wish you could be baptized again. When you take the sacrament with pure intent, it is as if you are being baptized again and are clean again.” I have never heard a general authority or the scriptures say any such thing, so I’ve wondered where that is coming from.

    From your understanding, that’s not true, is it?

    • Hi Wendy!
      Thanks for your questions. I have not heard any general authority, as least not that I can remember, having said that taking the sacrament worthily is as if you were being baptized again. Nor is it in the scriptures. The idea, of course, is to infer that there is power in the sacrament ordinance to provide forgiveness for sin. But no such wording is used in the sacrament prayers, or the revelations that speak of the sacrament. Of course, Jesus is the One that provides forgiveness for sin, and He can grant that at any time and in any place, whether it be during the sacrament service, or while you’re alone on your knees in prayer, or even someplace surprising, like while you’re having dinner at a restaurant. He knows when it is time and He is most eager to grant it.
      Even baptism by water doesn’t provide automatic forgiveness of sins. Since forgiveness comes through the atonement of Christ, He will choose when forgiveness comes! But we are baptized for the remission of sins, and as Joseph Smith said, baptism by water is just half a baptism. We also need the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. And Jesus, again, is the One who performs that baptism! So said John the Baptist!
      I hope that helps. :)

      • Wendy

        Yes, that makes perfect sense. And thank you for your detailed answer. This is where a friend and I ended up in our discussion as well.

        Again, thank you for taking the time to respond with such detail!

  23. Gail

    It is important in the temple also to keep Jesus’ sacrifice in its central place.

  24. Hi,
    I totally agree with you. What I try to do during the sacrament is to think about the last events of His life in particular; a time to contemplate.
    I believe it is difficult for Latter day Saints to understand that the sole purpose of an ordinance could be to remember but when one studies the scriptures ones undertsand that all those who have fallen had stopped to focus on Christ in one way or another.
    I believe you will address the “His spirit” part in the next article (you mentionned it already) because it is not so easily understood either.

    • Thanks for this, Pierrick. I love that you see the crucially foundational necessity of REMEMBERING the Lord. And how that leads to so much more for us! May we never forget!
      And I will try to get to discussing having “His Spirit” to be with us, but it might not be until the following post. :)
      Blessings to you!!

  25. Jane Deaux

    Question: if the sole purpose of taking the sacrament is about remembering Christ and had nothing to do with a “baptismal covenant” why are people told not to take it if they have sinned?

    • Great question, Jane!
      1 Corinthians 11: 27-29: “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself…For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
      Wow, no mention of baptism, or covenants. But plenty of mentioning the Lord’s body, and blood. What might this mean? How does eating unworthily make one guilty of Jesus’ sufferings and death?
      And what might that mean that such persons who would take the sacrament unworthily do not discern the Lord’s body?

  26. Jane Deaux

    Another question: why do missionaries teach people about the baptismal covenant and also teach that the sacrament renews the baptismal covenant? (See Preach My Gospel Lesson 3, as well as True to the Faith under Baptism, Sacrament, Covenant, and Ordinances) Why does Alma say “Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” Mosiah 18:10?

    • More good questions, Jane.
      And I love what Alma says here about being baptized, and having the Lord’s Spirit poured out more abundantly upon the people. Joseph Smith experienced the same thing when he and Oliver Cowdery were baptized. Even before they formally received the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, Joseph recounted that after their baptism, the Holy Ghost fell upon both of them in an extraordinary manner, both receiving the gift and spirit of prophecy, as well as having the true meaning and intention of the more mysterious passages found in the scriptures open to their understanding. (See Joseph Smith History 1: 73-74.) God is in charge of His Spirit, and He loves to give its gifts to the faithful!

      • Jane Deaux

        I find it interesting and sad that you seem to be selectively choosing to ignore some information while hyper focusing on others. Did you even read the information I referred you to? It seems that you haven’t so I will make it more accessible to you. In True to the Faith it states under Baptism: “Your Baptismal Covenant. When you were baptized, you entered into a covenant with God. You promised to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37). You renew this covenant each time you partake of the sacrament (see 20:77, 79).
        Under Covenant it states: “All the saving ordinances of the priesthood are accompanied by covenants. For example, you made a covenant when you were baptized, and you renew that covenant each time you partake of the sacrament (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37, 77, 79).
        Under Sacrament it states: “Renewing Covenants and Promised Blessings. When you partake of the sacrament, you witness to God that your remembrance of His Son will extend beyond the short time of that sacred ordinance. You promise to remember Him always. You witness that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ and that you will keep His commandments. In partaking of the sacrament and making these commitments, you renew your baptismal covenant (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37).
        “You receive great blessings when you keep the baptismal covenant. As you renew it, the Lord renews the promised remission of your sins. Cleansed from sin, you are able to “always have his Spirit to be with [you]” (D&C 20:77). The Spirit’s constant companionship is one of the greatest gifts you can receive in mortality. The Spirit will guide you in the paths of righteousness and peace, leading you to eternal life with your Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.”
        In the lesson manual missionaries use to teach new converts it states in lesson 3: The Gospel of Jesus Christ: “Baptism, Our First Covenant. Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare us for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God.
        “. . .Before baptism we show our willingness to enter a covenant to keep all the commandments for the rest of our lives. After baptism we show our faith by keeping our covenant. We also regularly renew the covenant we make when baptized by partaking of the sacrament. Partaking of the sacrament weekly is a commandment. It helps us remain worthy to have the Spirit with us always. It is a weekly reminder of our covenant. Jesus Christ introduced this ordinance to His Apostles just before His Atonement. He restored it through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Savior commanded that priesthood holders should administer the sacrament in remembrance of His body and His blood, which was shed for us. By partaking of the sacrament worthily we promise always to remember His sacrifice, we renew our promises, and we receive anew the promise that the Spirit will always be with us.”

        • Dear Jane,
          I have been careful in my responses for the main reason that I am not interested in arguing here. I am interested in speaking for Christ. Yes, I have read those things and know there are so many more of them. Please, I would invite you to relax. I sense your fear, and your zealous determination to set me straight. I will continue to clarify more of my thoughts over the next couple of posts. Meanwhile, thank you for your patience and genuine concern. :)

  27. Jan

    Thank you for your wonderful and thoughtful article. I memorized “the Living Christ” and say it during the Sacrament. This inspired document helps us remember him and his great atoning sacrifice. I love the scripture in Romans 8:38-39 “…Nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    • What a beautiful idea, Jan!
      I LOVE that you have gone to that work of memorization to be able to more fully focus on the Savior and all He has done for you. Thanks for sharing this with me. Absolutely LOVELY!
      And I too LOVE those verses in Romans 8!
      I wish for you every good thing! :)

  28. Kenneth, it’s great to hear your insightful and devotional voice. I have a ritual that I use in preparation for the sacrament. I write the four elements of the Brother of Jared’s prayer (Father, Thou art holy; I am fallen; Have mercy; Grant according to my desires). Then I clear my mind to find the place where Jesus will meet me for our weekly 15-minute interview. Then I imagine Him counseling me, loving me, teaching me, inviting me. I make notes and I try to use His counsel as my guide for the week ahead.

    • Hi Wally!
      I too have been absolutely changed by the brother of Jared’s prayer in Ether 3. Oh God, I know that thou art holy; I know that I am not…because of the Fall, my nature has become evil continually; look upon me in pity; Thou has commanded me to come to Thee with my desires…here they are! I LOVE THAT! And I have used it as well.
      But you have a weekly ritual/time with the Lord using it. What a great example to me you are, Wally! May He meet with you EVERY week and grant you answer to your faithful prayers!
      Love you, brother! :)

  29. Candice

    There is very little of the meaning of the baptismal covenant expressed directly in the words of the ordinance itself. We know it’s done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, with an opening reference to authority from Christ, and that’s all we get verbally.

    Physically, though, we are immersed in water in a way that symbolizes both cleansing and resurrection, the results of Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane and His overcoming death. I sometimes think about the sacrament bread representing Christ’s power to take up His body in accomplishing the resurrection. The water, His blood, recalls His bleeding from every pore to overcome spiritual death and open the way for repentance. The sacrament prayers (and Mosiah 18) verbally help us understand what our baptism (past or future) means in a way that aligns with the physical action and symbolism of baptism.

    Perhaps what we mean to say when we talk about the sacrament as a renewal of the baptismal covenant is that, although we can remember and engage with our baptismal covenant at any time, the sacrament is an ordinance that provides a formal opportunity to further contemplate and commit to Christ. In other words, we don’t need to be rebaptized to express our commitment to take upon us Christ’s name, we just need to participate in the sacrament because BOTH ordinances are actually about Him and His atonement. In fact, covenants are always about Him and His power to save us and exalt us.

    I agree that sometimes the way we talk about covenants does not always remember Him, but perhaps the problem is not so much in describing the sacrament as a renewal of the baptism covenant as it is in how we talk and think about baptism.

    The way we talk about our first temple attendance is also telling. It’s fairly common to hear people talk about going to “take out” their endowment, as if they were checking out a library book. I don’t know that I would go as far as saying that it is wrong to use those words, but I think we describe our position in the process much more accurately when we talk about going to RECEIVE the endowment (i.e. gift) that God offers us. Similarly, we receive baptism. We receive the sacrament, or partake of it, when we literally take up the bread and water.

    One thought is leading to another, so I guess I have something to occupy my mind on my run this morning. Thanks!

    • Hi Candice!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and understanding about both ordinances. It is true that the baptismal prayer doesn’t give much in the way of ordinance exposition, but D&C 20: 37 does outline for us the requirements to be met by the baptismal candidate:
      “And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.”
      As I look at these “requirements” and juxtapose them with the sacrament prayers, as well as Jesus’ own words to His prophets/apostles/disciples about why He instituted the sacrament, I have a different feeling about each. What we agree to do, feel, and commit to in order to be received into Christ’s church by baptism feels very focused on us…the baptismal candidate. But when I read the sacrament prayers, and Christ’s words surrounding the ordinance, the focus feels like it is on Christ…in remembrance of His body, His blood…those are some of the first words spoken in those prayers. It just feels different to me. And I agree with you…we probably don’t think enough about what we have agreed to when we were baptized…most likely for the reason that so many of us may have been baptized in our childhood or youth. That was the case for me, anyhow.
      So, thank you for this…and the rest…I have had similar thoughts about “taking out” our endowment. And the older I get, the more willing I am to let some of those things slide right on by without saying something. We are all on our individual journey, and so many are much, much farther along than me in the essentials. So, who am I to make waves about “phraseology”?…unless it is about my Jesus, and the very real need we ALL have to “understand [the] mercies which [God] has bestowed upon [us] because of [His] Son” (Alma 33:16).
      That’s when I have to speak up, and that’s what I am doing here. Thanks for your patience with my passionate voice in His behalf. :)

  30. Reynold Byers

    This is a very nice article to remind us of the fundamental reason for the sacrament; however, the logic is fundamentally flawed and suggests that, somehow, we are doing something wrong by discussing “renewing covenants.” The presumption is that there is a difference between “renewing covenants” and “remembering the Savior.” Since our baptismal covenant is primarily to remember him, to take his name upon us and to keep His commandments, then to remember Him and recommit to taking his name upon us is, by definition, “renewing our covenants.” There is not a distinction between the two things. We are not somehow de-emphasizing the Savior or the ordinance of the sacrament in discussing recommitment to covenants because covenants are with, about, and towards Him and his atonement. To suggest otherwise, as you seem to do, is incorrect. Since our covenant prominently includes to “remember him” then anytime we “remember him” we are keeping and renewing that covenant; they are one and the same. My concern is that I am seeing people respond to this with a sense of superiority that they somehow understand a greater truth than the simpletons surrounding them who can only think of selfishly “renewing covenants” during the sacrament. I am not suggesting that is your point, but I am seeing people take it that way and I believe it is driven by the false distinction created. You also seem to suggest that by “renewing our covenant” there is no aspect of “pondering” Christ’s sacrifice and Atonement. This is also incorrect because they are one and the same. (

    The part about not thinking of ourselves during the sacrament, but to dedicate our thoughts to Him, could be a reasonable point. The ordinance is to be in remembrance of Him and his sacrifice. Although when we remember Him, commit to keeping the commandments and taking His name upon us, it is inherent that we then evaluate ourselves in regards to whether we are truly taking his name upon us, remembering him and keeping his commandments. This leads to repentance and a greater desire to follow him which is the point of remembering him, that we will then follow him with greater effort and clarity.

    • Jane Deaux

      Thank you, thank you, thank you Reynold! You were able to say things so well – just what I was feeling/thinking but struggled to express effectively.

      • kjo

        thank you Reynold! I am seeing this as well. Maybe that is why he (Kenneth) left room for a part II?…so he can read the comments and adjust it?
        I think the main point I take from Kenneth’s post, thanks to some of the comments, is that we are starting to gloss over things with small phrases and forget to teach more from the scriptures. If we are going to remember only phrases (“primary answers”) but not have real understanding, there is a problem. Ponder that the sacrament prayer does include the covenant (two way promise) with the Lord “that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son” and then it says that we may/do remember Him (and keep His commmandments and have His Spirit to be with us). We need to keep talking and not use short, primary, quick-answer phrases all the time?
        …so Kenneth, the hyper focus on the remembering Him, I think I understand your valid point. But a few friends of mine are now thinking it’s not about renewing our baptismal covenants…So I hope you will talk about that in part II. In the sacrament prayer, taking His name upon us is stated first, then remember Him…we need both and more. Keep going. I know more knowledge comes with study and prayer and your post is creating the need for people to study more, so that is good. But I hope it’s not confusing people, but just in a different way. If that makes sense. thank you!

        • Hi kjo! :)
          Thank you. Yes, that is my main point, as you will see in my response to Reynold, below.
          Meanwhile…the first thing stated in both sacrament prayers is “in remembrance of the body…blood of Thy Son.” That is before we “witness” or testify by our partaking that we are willing to take upon us the Lord’s name, or willing to always remember Him, or willing to keep His commandments…we eat and drink in remembrance…
          I will talk more about the covenant as we go. But thank you for your kind and gentle manner in which you commented. It was with a heart to see the good and hope for good things to come, instead of judgment, etc. I hope I can follow your example and handle all of this in a similar way. :)
          Thanks again!

    • Hi Reynold!
      I appreciate your taking the time to speak your piece here. I’m sorry you did not seem to recognize the greater foundational message and purpose of my post…that Remembering Christ (which would include mentioning Him as to the “why” we take the sacrament), should be first and foremost when we partake of the emblems of His flesh and blood, for that was His instruction. And yet, as I tried to clearly state, I have heard so many times the phraseology of “renewing our covenants” as the only reason given for why we take the sacrament. To not mention Christ in our discussion of purpose cannot be equal to mentioning Him. And yet you suggest that either works, because everybody understands what is meant when we say “renewing our covenants.” Yes, covenants are available to us because of Him, but if we stop mentioning Him and only mention covenants and our need to keep them, then what are our children learning about our devotion and passion for Christ? And if we assume we all “know” that we are willing to take upon us His name, and yet won’t even mention His name as we give reason to why we take the emblems of His sacrifice, then what are we telling the world? Is this not dangerous for the rising generation in our church? And can it not also be harmful for those of us who are older now, and in the difficult trenches of life, who feel overwhelmed because of our fallen nature and our inability to keep ALL of His commandments? I will talk more about this in the next post or two.
      I have NO desire to argue, Reynold, but please don’t make assumptions about my purpose here (or anyone else’s who might comment), when you don’t know what is in my heart (or theirs). I like to raise my voice for the Savior. It’s who I am. And I am only speaking from my own life experience, and what I feel I have learned along my journey.
      I never said it was “selfish” to renew covenants. But I am saying it is harmful to our spirits to get lackadaisical in our speaking of Christ, because we somehow assume we all know what we are talking about. Every new generation must get their own witness and learn the precious doctrines of our Lord’s gospel. How can Jesus become precious to them if their teachers and leaders and parents scarcely mention Him in their discussions or testimonies? Can we really remember Him, and help others to do the same, if we won’t even acknowledge by the words of our own mouths that the bread and the water are about Him, and what He did for us?
      Thanks for your patience with me. :)

      • kjo

        Kenneth, when you talk about the sacrament not being about you…that it’s about Him…I think that is where people become concerned that you are suggesting it is bad or selfish to think about anything concerning ourselves, including the covenants made with the Lord, during the sacrament. I understand that is not what you meant…you simply want to draw attention back to the Savior and stop one word explanations that cause us to lose understanding. As I see it, you are looking and talking about a part of the sacrament that you know is being overlooked and others may be looking at the whole (all the parts) at once. When you dissected the parts of the sacrament, and talked only of one main (very important) part, the worry some people are having, I think, is the forgetting of the rest. Which is totally your concern too! I know! I am confident you will get to the rest in Part II…but I really don’t think people mean to be rude by saying your post is “flawed”. I think they are just bluntly saying it’s not complete…people have noticed your post has caused some confusion among their associates/friends…surprisingly! even with your attempt to say it IS renewing your covenants too…Semantics are an interesting thing…makes me think of the tower of babel, a little, even though we are all speaking english we still struggle to talk with each other without misunderstanding or concern about not being perfect in our language. It is a difficult part of life. I am a blunt talker too sometimes, especially if I feel strongly about something ;) and I am sure it comes off rude sometimes…Keep raising your voice. Keep listening. It’s how we all become perfect together.

        • Thank you, kjo! This is great input. I will address these issues in the next post or two. I certainly don’t want people to think I think they are selfish for considering where they are with the Lord, and how they are doing as it relates to their promises and covenants.
          Thank you again, for your kind and careful manner in communicating. I feel nothing but love and friendship from you. :)

  31. Sister N.

    Thank you, Brother Cope, for sharing your insights in such a thoughtful way. What a treasure this ordinance is. This is my first visit to your blog, and I eagerly await part II.

    • Thank you, Sister N.!
      Glad if it is useful in any way!
      Yes, our Lord’s sacrament IS a treasure!
      Have a lovely day, and please feel free to call me Kenneth. :)

  32. Trish Kingsford

    As always you have cut to the truth, the tender parts of the gospel, to the real meaning, to the gratitude we should have, to the thankfulness that we can be free of our sins. I love your comments and as I have tried many different times in my life, to REALLY take the sacrament with the correct heart this has helped me very much. I also have seen a picture someone painted of the congregation receiving the sacrament with different expressions or distractions and then seeing that Christ was the one passing the sacrament and how that changed. I try to picture that also. Thank you for your spirit of goodness and for sharing your testimony of the sacrament with us.

    • Thank you, Trish. I feel grateful to the Lord if any of this has been a help or blessing to you. Thanks for your example of the pure intent of your heart to draw close to our Savior as you do! :)

  33. Margaret

    I loved your article and agree with you. I look forward to reading more about the meaning of the sacrament.

    • Thanks for your kindness, Margaret. I do hope to only be useful in helping someone come directly to the Source of the Spirit promised us when we remember Him. :)

  34. Thanks for taking the time to help us all understand the reasons we partake of the sacrament on a regular basis.
    My feeling is that many times as LDS, we go out of our way to make our religion complicated. I’m, a convert with a large family. Most of my family (and me) and grandkids (about 20) have all served missions. We live in a complicated world with many problems that are often times generated by “information glut”. To me personally, I love to be reminded on a regular basis that Jesus died for us all so we can repent for our sins, but most importantly live a better life that will be worthy of obtaining eternal life with Jesus and our Father/mother/others in Heaven and our families.

    Thanks again for your efforts. Lord Bless.


    • Thank you, Harry, for your kind words and insight. Simplicity is a great virtue. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” No matter what the world or life may throw at you, may you always be able to go right back to the fundamental and most important elements of your faith. We have a God who is our literal Father. We have a Savior who died for us and lives for us today. We have a restored gospel through the Lord’s prophet, Joseph Smith. And God’s kingdom is on the earth to bring as many of us as will come to the unity of the faith and be transformed through Jesus’ power into beings He has raised unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. :)

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