The Sacrament and “Willing Sanctification”
I am one of those women who never feels ‘good enough.’ It seems like no matter how much I try, no matter how many things I accomplish; it is never ‘enough.’ I always seem to see the flaws, the places I could and should have done better. That makes it difficult to receive compliments, and to be content with any accomplishment.
When I was teaching Seminary [an LDS youth scripture study class for teens 14-18], we had the lesson on the sacrament. I knew all the typical Mormon answers about it. I was well aware of the lists of why and how and what. Suddenly however, as I was reading the prayers on the bread and water** aloud, I was struck by two words. 1) “sanctify” and 2) “willing.”
Deep into my heart that first word settled. I heard myself telling the students what ‘sanctify’ meant: to ‘make holy.’ I could literally hear my voice, watch my hand writing on the chalkboard and feel the word like a tangible thing settle into my soul. I was not in charge of sanctification! It had nothing at all to do with me. I was simply a ‘willing’ student, child, servant. If I am willing, I can be sanctified—made holy–because of the Savior.
The sacrament means so much more to me. I am still imperfect. I rarely have a whole Sabbath where I feel I am connected to the Spirit as I would wish. I still struggle to keep my mind centered, my heart pure, my actions reverent. I still find myself thinking about dinner, about my need to talk to sister-so-and-so. . .and these days, cuddling my new grandson. Yet. . . I am not in charge of the sanctification. I am merely in charge of being willing.
I am willing. I just received a calling that I’ve had six other times in my life. (It’s often the curse and blessing of Mormon music people to have this happen.) It isn’t my preferred calling, for many personal reasons, and yet, I am willing to serve. I don’t always serve happily with the attitude I ought, and yet I serve. As I serve, as I give my will to the Lord, I am made holy.
Tiny bit of bread by tiny bit of bread. Little sip of water by little sip of water. Small services, open hearts, tears, smiles, failures and trying again, each individually turn my heart towards sanctification. I am not perfect. Most days I struggle for the ‘good’ let alone the ‘better’ or ‘best’. . . But I KNOW I am willing. Perhaps that is what is most important.
Perhaps that is enough.
– – – – – – – –
The prayers on the Sacrament are set prayers. There are only a handful of those, and all have to do with ordinances in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the scriptures most heard by Mormons because they are repeated every week.
Prayer on the bread: “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 the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen [Moroni 4:3].”
Prayer on the water: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen [Moroni 5:2].”
(Since August 1830 (D&C 27) a revelation substituted water instead of wine.)