I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints back in 2002 and was soon there after ordained to the office of a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. About six or seven months passed and Bishop Dahneke pulled me into his office and started talking to me about being ordained an Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. I told him that before I would accept such an ordination I wanted to use the priesthood that I had been given. He thought that I meant that I wanted to baptize someone, but instead all I wanted to do was to have the opportunity to bless the Sacrament, though baptizing someone would have been good too.
We came to an understanding and the next week I was given the opportunity to be a part of the blessing of the Sacrament. On this day I blessed the water. It is the last of the two to be blessed, and by falling last it allowed me the opportunity to think of how nervous I was to be undertaking this new task for longer than I would have had I have been blessing the bread.
I knelt down to say the pray and pulled out this unfamiliar tray with the prayer written on in very small handwriting. As the platform for the sacrament is so low when you are on the stand I not only had to kneel, but also to kind of hunch myself to get my eyes close enough to read this yet unfamiliar script.
Shakily I read through the words which I had heard weekly over the past months and finally closed with amen. Straightening my already sore back I looked over at the Bishop as I had been instructed to see whether I had made a mistake in saying the prayer. He shook his head at me while making signals for me to say the prayer yet again.
I had made a mistake.
Again, I hunched myself down, and again I put my face uncomfortably close to the words I was to read, again I worked my way through the prayer, again Amen, and again the bishop shook his head, and for a third time I read the prayer. Finally, I had done it. I had successfully read a few lines of most sacred prayer that at the time I put no thought into whatsoever, other than I never want to do this again.
A month passed by and I was asked to bless again… again the water… again the nervousness… and again I read it three times.
Much time has passed and I now am more familiar with and comfortable saying the prayers, and now as I sit in the congregation I feel the strength in the words, I have a better understanding of their meaning, and recognize that they are yet another testimony of Jesus the Christ.
We are given commandment from God to come together as saints and partake of the sacrament; as it is known to James E. Talmage, The Sacrament of the Lords Supper. My thoughts as of late about the sacrament have gone in two directions, the first is the true power, focus, and testimony of the Sacrament as administered by members of the Lords Priesthood and the respect that is due the sacrament, and second, the meaning of the phrase “willing to take upon them the name of thy son.”
Power, Focus, and Testimony:
As in all things administered by the priesthood, the true power lies in Jesus Christ and our faith in him; it is a dichotomy by design. If Christ compelled us and did not allow us stake in accepting and having faith in his atonement, we would be following what we’ve come to know as Satan’s plan, where all were saved and glory was Lucifer’s. This is not the case though, as Christ gives all glory unto the Father, and we are given the ability to have power in our faith when it is securely anchored in the teachings of one worthy of our faith, namely Jesus Christ.
Richard G. Scott taught us last October in general conference:
The exercise of faith is vital to Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness. But true faith, faith unto salvation, is centered on the Lord Jesus Christ, faith in His doctrines and teachings, faith in the prophetic guidance of the Lord’s anointed, faith in the capacity to discover hidden characteristics and traits that can transform life. Truly, faith in the Savior is a principle of action and power (Ensign, Nov 2010).
Julie B. Beck also said:
It is not possible to make real change all by ourselves. Our own willpower and our own good intentions are not enough. When we make mistakes or choose poorly, we must have the help of our Savior to get back on track. We partake of the sacrament week after week to show our faith in His power to change us. We confess our sins and promise to forsake them (Ensign, May 2007).
During the blessing, passing, and partaking of the emblems of the Sacrament, we as members of the resorted church have the right and opportunity to take hold of the priesthood power to change us for good through Christ. As we focus on his atonement we will be filled with his Spirit which will bless us to more deeply feel the love of our Heavenly Father, to be uplifted and edified spiritually, to be filled with his spirit, to be freed from the cares of the world, to be freed from sin and guilt, all of which will ultimately strengthen our individual testimonies of Jesus Christ and the reality of his mission and Atonement.
Not only do I have the opportunity to partake of the Sacrament on a weekly basis blessed by those having the restored authority, but to also witness a touching event in the Eucharist of the Catholic faith during a weekly mass at my school.
While there are stark contrasts between the restored Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Catholic tradition, the one thing that I find is common to those who are truly seeking Christ in any faith, is a reverence for the sacrament as a moment of Spiritual edification and renewal.
It is always important to focus on the true manner of the sacrament. The Lord instructed Joseph Smith in revelation, now recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants section 59, concerning the land Zion, which we know maybe found anywhere Saints gather together to partake of the Sacrament and witness of Christ;
Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 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; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High.
Additionally in 3rd Nephi Christ teaches the inhabitants of this continent after his resurrection;
And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock…And behold, ye shall meet together oft;
As we are not only commanded to come together oft to partake of the Sacrament, but we are told in what mode we should gather, namely we are commanded to sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit. That is, we are to come with a willingness to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ. As we once followed the Savior into the waters of baptism, so too should we follow him in our observance of the sacrament.
By doing this we are promised that we will keep ourselves unspotted from the world, and as we do this our foundation is secured upon the Rock.
The last thing I want to speak to you about is the willingness that we covenant to in the prayer for the bread. Namely, we covenant that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.
Dalin H. Oaks shared a few points of doctrine concerning this phrase that I think are poignant for us to consider as we bless, pass, and partake of the sacrament, but most especially we must consider as we go forth with our lives.
Our witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ has several different meanings. Some of these meanings are obvious, and well within the understanding of our children. Others are only evident to those who have searched the scriptures and pondered the wonders of eternal life…
One of the obvious meanings renews a promise we made when we were baptized. As a second obvious meaning, we take upon us our Savior’s name when we become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By his commandment, this church bears his name. We also take upon us the name of Jesus Christ whenever we publicly proclaim our belief in him. A third meaning appeals to the understanding of those mature enough to know that a follower of Christ is obligated to serve him. Many scriptural references to the name of the Lord seem to be references to the work of his kingdom.
In these three relatively obvious meanings, we see that we take upon us the name of Christ when we are baptized in his name, when we belong to his Church and profess our belief in him, and when we do the work of his kingdom.
There are other meanings as well, deeper meanings that the more mature members of the Church should understand and ponder as he or she partakes of the sacrament.
It is significant that when we partake of the sacrament we do not witness that we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We witness that we are willing to do so. The fact that we only witness to our willingness suggests that something else must happen before we actually take that sacred name upon us in the most important sense.
What future event or events could this covenant contemplate? The scriptures suggest two sacred possibilities, one concerning the authority of God, especially as exercised in the temples, and the other—closely related—concerning exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
The name of God is sacred. The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name.” From Sinai came the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Latter-day revelation equates this with using the name of God without authority. “Let all men beware how they take my name in their lips,” the Lord declares in a modern revelation, for “many there be who … use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority.”
Consistent with these references, many scriptures that refer to “the name of Jesus Christ” are obviously references to the authority of the Savior. This was surely the meaning conveyed when the seventy reported to Jesus that “even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” The Doctrine and Covenants employs this same meaning when it describes the Twelve Apostles of this dispensation as “they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart.” The Twelve are later designated as “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world,” and as those who “officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church.”
By way of further illustration, the Old Testament contains scores of references to the name of the Lord in a context where it clearly means the authority of the Lord. Most of these references have to do with the temple.
Willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ can therefore be understood as willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ. According to this meaning, by partaking of the sacrament we witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of the Savior when he chooses to confer them upon us.
Another future event we may anticipate when we witness our willingness to take that sacred name upon us concerns our relationship to our Savior and the incomprehensible blessings available to those who will be called by his name at the last day.
Those who exercise faith in the sacred name of Jesus Christ and repent of their sins and enter into his covenant and keep his commandments can lay claim on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Those who do so will be called by his name at the last day.
When we witness our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, we are signifying our commitment to do all that we can to achieve eternal life in the kingdom of our Father. We are expressing our candidacy—our determination to strive for—exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
Finally, our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ affirms our commitment to do all that we can to be counted among those whom he will choose to stand at his right hand and be called by his name at the last day. In this sacred sense, our witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ constitutes our declaration of candidacy for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Exaltation is eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Ensign, May 1985).
The protagonist, Romeo, pondered the importance of a name in Shakespeare’s most well known play saying, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;” By this it would seem that a name is a cursory thing, but we know better. In fact, God’s first task for the man Adam was to have him name all of his creation. In Genesis it is recorded that,
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
The act of naming superseded in order the act of creating his pinnacle creation, woman. Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of quorum of the seventy shared in his conference address last October what is in a name;
Each week as we partake of the sacrament, we covenant and promise that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. If we are willing to do so, we are promised that most wonderful blessing—that His Spirit will always be with us…The importance of having a good name is spoken of in Proverbs, where we read: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold” and “The [name] of the just is blessed.”
In that glorious day when we stand before our beloved Savior to report what we have done with His name, may we be able to declare: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” “I have honored Thy name” (Ensign, Oct. 2010).
Brothers and sisters, not only is our willingness important, but it is vital when it comes to taking upon us the name of Christ and understanding all this means to us. We sometimes repeat the phrase to those leaving our company, “remember who you are.” As we partake of the sacrament it should be a reminder and testimony of who we are and whose name that which we will be called in the last day. That name is the name of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus the Christ.