The Development Of The Eucharistic Rite
Even though the Lord commanded the Saints to meet together often to partake of bread and wine , it appears that the young LDS Church did not formally institute a weekly sacramental service on the Sabbath until a few years following that humble beginning at Peter Whitmers log home. In this regard, it looks as if the Protestant heritage of many early church leaders may have played a role in the infrequency of the communal events.17 In fact, while Catholicism centers salvation on a journey characterized by rites and personal work, Protestant movements are stripped for the most part of such liturgies, and the occasional Eucharist becomes merely a token of praise and gratitude for a salvation that has already been granted entirely through the grace of Christ.18 Perhaps to Mormons the theological implications of the sacrament were not fully explained or understood at first, and the eternal, delicate balance between mortal works and divine grace, as beautifully elaborated in 2 Nephi 25:23, was still in need of further elaboration. Consequently, changes that took place in the following decades pertaining to the Latter-day Saint ritual of administering bread and wine may have been the result of a progressive maturation in expanding the theological and liturgical invitation of remembering the works and grace shown by the Savior as described in the revealed sacramental prayers.
Changes In Sacrament Administration
- Weekly administration of the sacrament in the LDS Church did not begin until the 1850s. There is no revelation directly commanding the sacrament to be a weekly practice, but the custom developed and spread throughout the church over time.
- Until the late 1890s or early-20th century, the entire congregation kneeled during the sacramental prayers, consistent with D& C 20:76 and Moroni 4:2. Current practice requires that only the individual giving the prayer kneel.
- Deacons and teachers did not originally take part in the preparing or passing of the sacrament, a practice which was first adopted in 1898 and was widely implemented in the 1920s or 1930s. Previous reluctance to involve them was probably due to the following verse from the LDS Doctrine and Covenants:
â³But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on handsâ³ .
- The term “administer” has since been interpreted as referring to recitation of the sacrament prayer, which deacons and teachers are not given the authority to do.
- Individual water cups, instead of drinking from a common cup, were introduced in 1911.
- Passing the sacrament first to the presiding church authority was emphasized in 1946.
The Restoration Of The Sacrament
On April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, the first and second elders of this dispensation, met with a few others at Peter Whitmers humble residence in Fayette, New York, to organize the Church. Instructions pertaining to this gathering were given previously in a revelation known as Articles and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ . Together with other business items, the first sacrament was celebrated as the priesthood brethren distributed the bread and wine to those in attendance.11, 12
Only a few months earlier while writing about the Saviors visit to the Nephites, Joseph and Oliver learned the necessity of the ordinance of baptism. Angelic manifestations, in response to their inquiry of the Lord, precipitated the restoration of proper priesthood authority, hence allowing for the ordinance of baptism to be administered in the Susquehanna River . Subsequently, a few more baptisms were performed prior to the organization of the church. However, notwithstanding they had priesthood authority and a number of early converts, Joseph Smith did not perform the first Eucharist until the church was officially organized. It is possible that Joseph was instructed to wait for that significant occasion in order to celebrate the first sacrament in this dispensation. Regarding the event, he wrote,
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Which Was Shed For Them
After defining the wine as symbolic of the Saviors blood, the second prayer inserts an extra phrase: which was shed for them. No corresponding phrase occurs in the first prayer. Why the inconsistency?
When Jesus introduced the sacrament to the people gathered at the temple in Bountiful, He used similar phrases for the bread and the wine:
- The bread: This shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you .
- The wine: This shall ye always doin remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you .
This group of people had been in His presence all day. They had seen His resurrected body. They had felt the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet. The phrase describing His bodywhich I have shown unto youwas appropriate for them but would not be relevant to us. But the phrase which he applied to His bloodwhich I have shed for youapplies to us just as it did to them. So a version of that phrase is included in the second prayer.
How The Church Is Helping
Volunteers with Latter-day Saint Charities and Project HOPE partnered to distribute medical supplies Feb. 4, 2020, in Shanghai to combat coronavirus.
Latter-day Saint Charities, the faiths humanitarian arm, has provided support, supplies and funding in more than a dozen countries so far in the battle against the coronavirus.
Early on, the church donated its supply of N95 masks and some others and then we procured others as well. But theres also surgical masks, made from whats called surgical wrap, Sharon Eubank, president of the organization and first counselor in the general presidency of the faiths all-female Relief Society, told The Salt Lake Tribune. And theyre almost as effective, but theres also a shortage of those right now. Were looking at ways that we could even manufacture some of those if we can get the raw materials.
Eubank also encouraged members to help others by being disciplined about social distancing its the kindest thing you can do for your community.
Spend time talking/listening to kids and older people this is an anxious time, she added. Volunteer when you can do it safely.
Where Are The Sacrament Prayers In The Doctrine And Covenants
When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites after his Resurrection, he explained the meaning of the scriptures. Intellectual Reserve Inc. When theyre not using a printed card, those officiating at the sacrament table commonly turn to Doctrine and Covenants 20:77 and 20:79 for the text of the prayers to be offered.
Sacrament Prayers: A Close Reading
A while ago my dad had pointed out some features of the sacrament that somehow Id missed in all the years Id been partaking. A few of these were examples of something thats right before you the whole time yet somehow you still miss. I thought Id share them with you.
We get our sacrament rite largely from the Nephites rather than the Palestinian Christians. Many have argued that the evolution of the sacrament amongst the Nephites takes the form it does going back to King Benjamins famous speech. The Palestinian version of the sacrament is most likely that found in the Didiche, an early 1st century document that deals with rituals and other such matters. It differs a fair amount although there are points of similarity. Given how the near eastern form of Judaism had been transformed by the exile, the Hellenistic and then Roman conquests, its hardly surprising for there to be differences. There are six centuries of divergent evolution. We need to remember that the Nephites had most likely been heavily assimilated into mesoAmerican culture much as the Palestinian Jews had assimilated a lot of Hellenistic and Babylonian culture. Theres also the effect of Josephs translation which regardless of the method of translation strongly suggest a fairly loose translation in terms of fidelity to the underlying text.
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The Theology Of The Sacrament
Official teaching focusing on the theological aspects of the sacrament was not common in the early years of the church. In 1867, Joseph F. Smith was one of the first apostles to touch on the covenantal nature of this rite without elaborating on it: We meet here in this Tabernacle and partake of the Holy Sacrament together as brethren in the bonds of the covenant.38 President Brigham Young in 1877 added the salvific component to the promises we exchange with the Savior at the time of the Eucharist when he stated,
Its observance is as necessary to our salvation as any other of the ordinances and commandments that have been instituted in order that the people may be sanctified, that Jesus may bless them and give unto them his spirit and guide and direct them that they may secure unto themselves life eternal.39
A few years later, in a talk given at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, Elder Charles Penrose complemented these teachings by restating the Lucan passage about the true meaning of the communal meal by stating,
We take this sacrament this afternoon not only in remembrance of the past but to direct our minds to the future. We partake of it to witness that we believe in the Atonement wrought out by the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Calvary and also that we expect his reappearance on the earth.40
Increased usage in the past three decades of the teaching of the sacrament as a surrogate of the baptismal ordinance in General Conference talks.
Some Early Christians Used Both Water And Wine In The Sacrament
It is noteworthy that some early Christians used both water and wine in the sacrament. Justin Martyr recorded:
On Sunday we hold a meeting in one place for all who live in the cities or the country nearby. The teachings of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time is available. When the reader has finished, the president gives a talk urging and inviting us to imitate all these good examples. We then all stand together and send up our prayers. As noted before, bread, wine and water is brought forth after our prayer. The president also sends up prayers and thanksgivings. The people unitedly give their consent by saying, “Amen.” The administration takes place, and each one receives what has been blessed with gratefulness. The deacons also administer to those not present… We all choose Sunday for our communal gathering because it is the first day, on which God created the universe by transforming the darkness and the basic elements, and because Jesus Christour Redeeming Saviorrose from the dead on the same day.
Samuele Bacchiocchi, a non-Mormon scholar, has observed that
It also suggests that early Christians understood that “it mattereth not what ye shall eat or drink when of the sacrament” .
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What Verses Are The Sacrament Prayers Lds
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
Chapter 4: Jesus Christ Teaches About The Sacrament And Prayer
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Baptism In The Lords Way
The Savior revealed the true method of baptism to the Prophet Joseph Smith, making clear that the ordinance must be performed by one having priesthood authority and that it must be done by immersion:
âThe person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
âThen shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the waterâ .
Immersion is symbolic of the death of a personâs sinful life and the rebirth into a spiritual life, dedicated to the service of God and His children. It is also symbolic of death and resurrection.
What Do The Sacrament Prayers Mean To Mormons
While Mormons believe in the figures they call God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Spirit , their beliefs differ regarding who each of these are.
Trinity: Mormons dont believe in the Trinity. Instead, they see God the Father as being God, while the other two serve as His counselors.
God the Father: They believe God was once human like the rest of us but that He underwent spiritual progression to become God. According to their teachings, we can, and should, follow this same process of transformation. In addition, they believe God is our physical father and that we were physically born of Him in eternity before we were sent to be born again on earth.
The Son: They view Jesus as humanitys physical older brother who was selected for the role of Savior.
The Holy Ghost: Like God, Mormons believe the Holy Ghost progressed to arrive at his eternal status where he serves as Gods counselor and helper.
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The Sacrament Prayers Are Grammatically Wrong
Hey again! It is I, your favorite polemicist! I once brought to you the notion that the way you might be ending your talk or testimony is wrong, and today, I come to you with the earth-shattering news that our sacramental prayersactual scriptureare grammatically incorrect.
Before you think Im here to tear down holy writ, Im not. The scriptures have undergone several revisions for clarity over the years, many for purposes far more serious than minor grammatical errors. Also, we update scripture translations into languages other than English in order to correct meaning. Just ask anyone who read the original translation of Mosiah 2:17 into Spanish, which effectively said that when ye are in the bathroom of your fellow beings you are only in the bathroom of your God. Even just a few years ago, the Church to better align the meaning of a verb.
Point is, we update stuff, even scripture, and yet, our sacred sacramental prayers in English are written incorrectly! Lets read them as they stand:
Blessing 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 has given them that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
Oaks Presses His Case
Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith was murdered weeks after the Navuoo City Council destroyed the printing press of the dissident Nauvoo Expositor.
Many scholars, even faithful Mormon ones, see Joseph Smiths move to stop the press in this case, that of the dissident Nauvoo Expositor by busting it and tossing the type as an extreme, even illegal, act.
But Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency and a former Utah Supreme Court justice, says his research shows otherwise.
When Smith, then Nauvoos mayor, and the City Council declared the newspaper a nuisance and destroyed it, he argues, they did not violate any free press guarantees that existed at the time though it did lead to the church founders arrest and murder weeks later.
The lesson I drew from this … has made me a lifelong opponent of the technique of presentism relying on current perspectives and culture to criticize official or personal actions in the past, Oaks said at a recent Church History Symposium. Past actions should be judged by the laws and culture of their time.
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Those Cans In The Garage
Canned goods like these can be found in the food storage kept by many members.
McKay Coppins was always a believer in if not a devoted practitioner of the churchs counsel to have food storage.
There was never a moment, he writes in The Atlantic, when I consciously ruled out the idea of keeping around some extra water and rice.
But now, given the coronavirus pandemic, you can count Coppins among the truly converted not only to the practical wisdom of having extra supplies but also to some less-tangible benefits.
The ritual, the journalist explains, of counting and stacking and sorting the cans like so many rituals of faith offered something more abstract than physical sustenance: peace of mind, a sense of hope, something to grip while the world is unraveling.
John Bytheway: A Line
For Moroni to engrave the sacrament prayers on the plates is a testimony that the sacrament was an essential, not an optional, part of their worship.
Moronis inspired inclusion of the sacrament prayers gives us the opportunity to examine each prayer more closely and to look for depth and meaning in each phrase. As we ponder what might be most important to the Lord, we might ponder the things He has asked us to repeat. Although we are baptized only once, our recommitment to our baptismal covenants is performed weekly through the sacrament. Although we receive our temple endowment only once, as we return to the temple to act as
Brother Gary Poll suggested that if Heavenly Father had a favorite scripture, He might arrange it so that His people would hear it often, so that the person uttering the scripture might be kneeling, and so that all listening would have their eyes closed. What is in these prayers Moroni recorded that is so important and so timeless?
We ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is our advocate with the Father. He told the Nephites, Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name . In keeping with the Saviors instructions, we offer this prayer, and all other prayers, to our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave us a call to action when he taught that the name of Christ might also mean the work of Christ:
Sister Jean A. Stevens taught:
Lead image from Shutterstock
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