Christmas is all about gifts.
My grandsons are really great. Though only months separate them in age, they are growing up so quickly. I had forgotten how inquisitive new toddlers are but have been reminded recently.
“Why?” is a common question spoken in my home when they visit. Seeing their curiosity and insatiable appetite for knowledge is invigorating. These boys are inquisitive (and even their one-word questions are perceptive), and their chattering and lovely expressions are treasures in their own right.
We can learn a lot from our children.
During the holiday time of year in particular, we rejoice in the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ.
We take an opportunity during the holidays, which we celebrated only a few months ago, to remember Him in specific terms. We sing, we share, we celebrate, and we do what He did—give gifts—to show our love and honor and acknowledge Him.
This helps remind us regularly of the gift our Heavenly Father gave us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Though the presents we share may be small and insignificant, what they represent is the greatest gift ever given. They evoke memories and increase our appreciation for His sacrifice on our behalf, which changes everything.
He came to the earth to give gifts of health, recovery, hope, and assistance to those that possibly had the least going for them—the widow, the leper, the downtrodden and afflicted. Those acts have permeated history and continue to inspire and guide us centuries later. But these gifts were only a precursor to the phenomenal gift He also gave us at that time.
The gift He offers us does not go unacknowledged or unappreciated. Instead, we actually remember Him frequently each time we take the emblems of the sacrament at our weekly church meetings. We renew the covenants that we made at baptism and acknowledge our desire to follow Him in all things. It is a beautiful principle. Perhaps the sacramental prayers are among the most-repeated prayers in the Church. The text for this ordinance is actually two prayers, which can be found in section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
The love of Jesus Christ is our hope in the midst of sorrow and pain. He refers to us as his friends.
The prayer on the bread ends with the words “. . . that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.” I propose that gift is a most significant offering and can be a great blessing in our lives.
Why? Here again, even one-word expressions provide valuable insight and clarity to the blessing and purpose of partaking of the sacrament regularly. It is the work of God.
I have chosen not to print the words of the sacrament prayers in this article out of respect for the sanctity of this ordinance, since they are all available to the discerning pupil in the scriptural reference above. But I have heard these words weekly for more than half a century, and they are comforting and warm, peaceful and full of hope. Admittedly, I have failed to comprehend their magnitude, but even one-word expressions capture the essence of this sacred honor:
The incomprehensible sacrifice this sacred ordinance represents is the greatest single experience that has ever or will ever occur. It is beyond our understanding. Yet we celebrate that event and recommit our allegiance fully every week by partaking of the sacrament and keeping the commandments.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
The small and simple act of taking the sacrament weekly shows that we are willing to keep our covenants, which in turn has the biggest and most long-lasting impact. This is within the reach of every man and woman on Earth. All those that are willing to accept and follow Christ are invited to participate. What is on your sacrament card?
We enjoyed the opportunity to partake of the sacrament twice a week as the sacrament was formerly administered in Sunday School opening exercises as well. I had almost forgotten. But in 1980 when the church schedule was consolidated, the ordinance of the sacrament was administered only once a week, during our sacrament meetings.
The salvation of Jesus Christ is very real—and the price He paid very terrible. Jesus is the Savior of mankind and the gospel has been restored to prepare for His Second Coming. The divinity of Christ is our deliverance.
In an article by Brother John S. Tanner (now the president of BYU-Hawaii), “Reflections on the Sacrament Prayers,” he asserts about Christ’s physical pain (as a result of the Atonement) that “either our Redeemer or the Father could have put a stop to it at any time.”
But they didn’t. The Atonement of Jesus Christ was completed for us.
There is a marvelous spiritual synergism in the economy of heaven: the more we strive to do right, the more we are strengthened to do it; the more we have, the more we are given; the more we try to remember, the more the Lord makes available to us that Being whose calling it is to “bring all things to your remembrance.”
Each of us asks in wonder and amazement, “He did that for me?”
Jesus declared, “In the world ye shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
I love Christmas. When we remember the baby Jesus, we reverence Him. And that doesn’t just happen during the holidays! That happens now—every week when we renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament, and every day when we live our lives in such a way that we honor Him. We share gifts because He first shared gifts with us.
The Savior understands and loves us despite our litany of shortcomings and faults. He is willing to bear our burdens if we will but do our best to follow Him, then He pays the price of our missteps to bring us home to His presence.
The sacrament is evidence of that promise for all who will follow Him.
We reconnect with the Savior through the sacrament on a consistent basis for the reassurance that He is always near and to remind us of the covenant we have made with Him. He purchased you and me through the Atonement.
Every week we get to remember that promise by partaking of the sacrament.
Our worth in the Savior’s eyes is, in a word, brilliant.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.