One of the most important invitations ever issued to us and to all mankind is to “come unto Christ and be perfected in him.” (Moro. 10:32.) How do we do that? One of the most beautiful and important ways is through the ordinance of the sacrament.
The Lord instituted the sacrament, as we know it today, during what we commonly call the Last Supper. In one sense, it was the last supper, but in another, it was the first supper—the beginning of many spiritual feasts.
The resurrected Lord instructed the Book of Mormon people:
“[Ye] shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name. And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done. … And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.”(3 Nephi 18:5–7)
The moving tenderness and deep significance of this transcendent event are still available to us today. But we must do as they did and follow the doctrine of Christ, which is to believe in Jesus, rely on him, repent of our sins, take his name upon us by being baptized in his church, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and faithfully follow Christ all of our lives.
He knows we need much help to do this, so he provides that the ordinance of the sacrament be repeated often.
This invitation of the Savior to come unto him is issued regularly and is universal. Everyone is included—men, women, and children. Old and young alike participate. None are barred except by themselves.
“And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me.”(3 Nephi 18:25.)
But the Lord, who knows the terrible consequences of hypocrisy, also warned:
“Ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, … “For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul.”(3 Nephi 18:28–29)
What does it mean to partake of the sacrament worthily? Or how do we know if we are unworthy?
If we desire to improve (which is to repent) and are not under priesthood restriction, then, in my opinion, we are worthy. If, however, we have no desire to improve, if we have no intention of following the guidance of the Spirit, we must ask: Are we worthy to partake, or are we making a mockery of the very purpose of the sacrament, which is to act as a catalyst for personal repentance and improvement? If we remember the Savior and all he has done and will do for us, we will improve our actions and thus come closer to him, which keeps us on the road to eternal life.
If, however, we refuse to repent and improve, if we do not remember him and keep his commandments, then we have stopped our growth, and that is damnation to our souls.
The sacrament is an intensely personal experience, and we are the ones who knowingly are worthy or otherwise.
Do you remember the feeling you had when you were baptized—that sweet, clean feeling of a pure soul, having been forgiven, washed clean through the merits of the Savior? If we partake of the sacrament worthily, we can feel that way regularly, for we renew that covenant, which includes his forgiveness.
Those who would deny themselves the blessing of the sacrament by not attending sacrament meeting or by not thinking of the Savior during the services surely must not understand the great opportunity to be forgiven, to have his Spirit to guide and comfort them! What more could anyone ask?
As we worthily partake of the sacrament, we will sense those things we need to improve in and receive the help and determination to do so. No matter what our problems, the sacrament always gives hope.