The Sacrament (part 4)

kenneth cope - FaceToFace-cover
 

(Continued from last week…)

I know, I know! I said last week, with that post, that I was finishing up with this series on the sacrament. But hey, something else pressed in upon me as I cut the lawn this morning…so here I am. “Wherefore,” in the words of Moroni, “I write a few more things, contrary to that which I had supposed; for I had supposed not to have written any more; but I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto [at least one person out there in cyberspace], according to the will of the Lord” (Moroni 1: 4). (Of course I took some “likening the scriptures unto us” liberties at the end of that quote. :)

Among the vast number of memorable passages in the Book of Mormon, one stands out as one of the most widely used and well known among the Latter-Day Saints, and that is the one known as Moroni’s promise. It is found at the end of the book, in Moroni 10: 3-5. For my purposes here today, I wish to review verse three:

“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things [the words in the Book of Mormon], if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.”

Okay…Moroni has exhorted us to “ponder it in [our] hearts.” Ponder what? When we hear commentary about this promise, we usually hear that we need to read and ponder the words of the Book of Mormon. And, of course, we know that that is a true statement. But is that what we are being exhorted to ponder here? A little closer look at the grammar of the sentence: “when ye shall read these things…ye should read them…receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.” Can the plural of “these things” and “them” equal the singular “it” which we are supposed to ponder? No. I suggest that the grammar is sound. I suggest that what we are supposed to ponder in our hearts is not “these things,” but rather, it is “how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things.” Why would that be important? Well, Moroni wants us to remember and ponder how merciful God has been in His dealings with mankind…from the days of Adam all the way down to you and your day, right up to the moment when you come to this page and promise in the book. Remember and ponder the past 6000 years, and think of how many times in the scriptural record that God answered other people’s prayers, other people’s sincere searches for truth. Ponder THAT in your heart. Think on it. Reflect. God has said that He is no respecter of persons. Would He answer the prayers of a multitude of other truth seekers who went to Him in all patience and faith, believing that they would receive, and NOT answer yours? Moroni wants you to believe that if He would answer a host of others in their sincere quest for Him, then He will also answer you!

In fact, we know that Joseph Smith, himself, learned this truth by his own experience. He tried the experiment and saw that God kept His word. He became a witness to the Lord’s declaration that God was no respecter of persons, but would just as soon manifest the truth to a fourteen-year-old farm boy, as He would to an 80-year-old Moses in the mount. But, Joseph didn’t come to this revelation immediately. He had to arrive at a place of faith first. And how did he do that? Well, first he read the word of the Lord’s servant, James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1: 5). As Joseph read, this passage of scripture was carried with extraordinary power into his heart. Then Joseph thought about the message of the passage, over and over again. He said: “I reflected on it again and again” (Joseph Smith-History 1: 12). “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men…” And as he reflected, Joseph realized he was among the “any” and “all” men being spoken to. Therefore, he continued to ponder God’s invitation in his heart. And as he did, the seed of faith grew until he believed he would get an answer. How long did it take? We don’t know for sure. But Joseph tells us, “I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God’” (JS-H 1: 13). Joseph needed time to ponder so he could get to where he was ready to believe and receive a response from heaven. Moroni knew that the readers of the Book of Mormon would also need time to remember and ponder God’s mercy and willingness to commune with mankind so they could arrive at the place of faith, and then come to know “by the power of the Holy Ghost” that the Book is true and from God. (Moroni 10: 4-5.)

See how spiritual knowledge, feelings, understanding, conviction, commitment, and testimony all need time to deepen, mature, and grow. That is why there is such potential power in using time to reflect, ponder, and remember!

And so it is with the sacrament. When we remember, reflect, ponder, consider, imagine, envision, and increase our study of what the Savior did—what He went through—and how treacherous it might have been for Him, oh how it works its affect upon us! When we remember the history of our own pain, our own suffering, our own loss, disappointment, broken heartedness, anguish of mind, guilt, shame, loneliness, isolation, confusion, abuse and betrayal at the hands of others, etc., and we reflect on the idea that He took all of that and more onto and into His own person, how it fills us with such compassion for Him! AND, when we contemplate that He took the punishment we were due to receive because of our sins, rebellion, pride, and hardness of heart, it causes us to kneel all amazed!

Jesus took it ALL!

Why? Because of LOVE!

Does it boggle your mind that you could mean THAT MUCH to someone?…that you could be loved THAT MUCH?

Well, you do! And you are!

Remember THAT! Remember Him…and ponder all of it in your heart! And as you do, see if the sacrament doesn’t become a spiritual, worshipful, deeply personal communion with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

As Alma said, “And now…I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith [and I would add, nourish it by your remembering, reflecting, and pondering]. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son” (Alma 33: 23).

(to be continued…maybe…)

18 Responses to The Sacrament (part 4)

  1. Thank you again, Kenneth, for inviting me to pause and ponder. Tomorrow will be different because of this.

  2. Raymond Cooper

    It is very obvious to me that you (Kenneth) have spent many hours pondering the Saviour and His life by the music and lyrics you have written over the years. I have admired your talent and have spent hours and hours listening to and been uplifted by the Spirit thru your gifted expressions of your admiration of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Your recent blogs on the sacrament have been inspiring and deeply thought provoking. The emphasis from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on the Sacrament and the Sabbath Day have shown us all that we must re-focus (always remember Him) on just how much the Saviour needs to be a part of our everyday life. Your words and thoughts have given me cause to ponder my relationship with Jesus Christ and just where I have placed him in terms of my everyday priorities. I foresee a change coming in me.

    • This is so kind, and SO beautiful, Raymond, as you have shared your own personal feelings and assessment regarding yourself and your Savior. Thank you for taking the time to reach out. Your words have blessed me this day.
      May the change which you foresee coming in yourself have the Lord’s beautiful fingerprints all over it! :)

  3. Jason Noel

    Thank you for your time you spent on this. As I stated earlier, that I have been on a similar journey. Now I find myself winding this one down with your helpful thoughts and now a new one has started. Remembering, is occupying a spot in my mind. I am wondering why we are told to remember so much. Remember our covenants, remember our ancestors, remember the Savior, remember, remember remember. There is a benefit I can see easily, but is it just that simple? The Holy Ghost even brings things to my remembrance. Anyways, when one journey ends another begins. This is what I love so much about the Gospel. It’s full of lessons for me to learn. My problem is I can’t remember them to learn from them… See, there it is, If I could remember, how different would my life be? So how do I remember all the time? I do know my love for the Savior has grown the more I study. And the more I study, the more I usually remember. Thanks again… I look forward to the next post.

    • Wonderful, Jason!
      Yes, REMEMBER!
      Pause and remember! It helps us choose the Lord’s way, the Lord’s love, the Lord’s view. And the more we do, the more He pours His Spirit into our souls. And the more we have His Spirit, the more we are transformed into His image by His power, for one cannot have the Spirit of God so present, and not be made more holy, more good, “more, Savior, like Thee!”
      Blessings to you, Jason! May you be strengthened in your remembering! :)

  4. Teri

    Thank you for the thoughts your have shared. I have refered back to them many times as I have studied this topic over the last few weeks. I feel a strong desire to improve our entire Sabbath day observance in our family and your words have really inspired me to know where to start. Thank you again!

    • So glad if it has been useful in any way, Teri. :)
      I have continued to think on these things as well, and am seeing how even our enjoyment of His Spirit can grow in our lives, from week to week, as our understanding of Him, His offering, and the glorious motives of His heart are unfolded before us through the tutoring of His Spirit.
      May you and your family have Jesus with you always, even as He has said! :)

  5. Joseph Marrow

    I wish you and your family the best and thank you for everything.
    You’re awesome,
    Joseph

  6. Julie Souter

    I have just discovered your website and writings. I am touched with the spirit as I read your testimony, faith and ponderings. Your light is very bright for the Lord. Thanks for sharing the wisdom you have gained through your nurturing your faith and through your goodness and courage.

    • Thank you, Julie, for taking the time to reach out on here. And…it THRILLS my heart to hear that you have felt the Spirit as you’ve gone through this. What could mean more to me than that?
      I pray you will continue to be so blessed as you follow your heart and trust the Lord’s voice to you. Bless you, bless you! :)

  7. Renon Bryce

    I have been thinking about the sacrament a lot this last month. As I thought about renewing my covenants during the sacrament I felt I was missing something. Today, as I read your thoughts, that missing something fell into place. It all just goes together – as I remember Him, as I think on Him, I am drawn to Him, I become more like Him, I act more like Him, I keep my covenants better because my heart is more like His. I am looking forward to this Easter week, spending more time thinking of Him. I am excited to spend time during the Sacrament with new eyes and thoughts. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Renon!
      This is beautiful, the way you put it…that it begins, and then leads us somewhere…somewhere better than we are now, more grateful to our Lord than we are now, and therefore, more desirous to serve and please Him than we do now. Of course, this requires our Lord to participate with us in the sacrament, giving us His Spirit as He promised, lifting us up with hope and love and faith. It’s a journey and He is in the middle of it, taking us back into the presence of our heavenly Parents!
      May you feel wonderfully blessed by Him in this journey!

  8. Tamara

    I remember how close to the Savior I felt many years ago when, as a member of a regional choir in Houston, TX, I shared my testimony of Him to an audience that included many members of other Christian faiths who were certain that Latter-Day Saints are members of a scary, non-Christian cult. After a special arrangement of “I Believe In Christ”, we performed “Greater Than Us All” in its entirety. I’m sure some minds and hearts were touched and even changed that night.

    The past two years have been quite challenging for me, and I’m so grateful that “Greater Than Us All” is accessible on my smartphone. A roommate situation wasn’t working out and I retreated to my room to listen to it. Mental health issues led to two hospitalizations and listening and singing were healing balms.

    Then today after an Easter sacrament meeting that included a soloist singing “His Hands”, a Facebook post led me to your awesome blog and your thought-provoking remarks about the purpose of the sacrament. I will never approach it the same way again! God bless you for your insight.

    • I praise the Lord that He has blessed you, Tamara! I rejoice that you have found strength and inspiration in singing to Him and about Him. I, too, find I receive strength, even when I’m hurting, if I can sing to and about my God and my Savior.
      I pray you will feel deeply loved and empowered as you remember Jesus in your daily life. There are things that only He can do for us. May you feel Him with you, doing those things, and raising you up in pure joy and fulfillment of soul! :)

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