Sunday, December 19, 2010

Putting Christ back into Christmas

So, in today's lesson we were discussing the ideology of the sacrament and how it relates to us. It was pretty deep doctrine and left me thinking a great deal. Particularly the nature of the contract we enter into when partaking of the sacrament each week. The terms are clearly laid out in the prayers offered for each portion of the sacrament:

Doctrine & Covenants 20:77, 79

77O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this abread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and bwitness 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 ccommandments which he has given them; that they may always have his dSpirit to be with them. Amen.

79O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this awine 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.

In the blessing of the bread, each member of the congregation partaking witnesses their willingness to bear the name of Christ, always remember him and keep his commandments. In return each is promised to have his Spirit to be with them. The blessing of the water is important in its differences. We witness of the rememberance we have already promised in return for the continued blessing of his Spirit. The second confirms and seals the first agreement. And just like the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, the full covenant is incomplete without both parts.

I hadn't really considered that before. The other part that really caught my attention was the wording of the first blessing - "and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son." We are not saying we will, but rather that we want to. We are witnessing a  commitment that acknowledges the difficulty of the task and accounts for our possible failure from time to time.

The concept of willingness versus will really intrigues me. It's the idea that our success is more likely when we express willingness or intent rather than a flat avowal to do. When I say I'm going to stick to a diet and never cheat again, I am condemning myself to fail. But if instead I tell myself it's going to be hard and sometimes I will slip and falter, I am more likely to persist in trying. We have made the task  more possible to achieve somehow. And connecting that idea to the gospel and the doctrines I believe in is a refreshing adventure sometimes. And at this time of year, revisiting the level of commitment I make to bearing Christ's name is always worthwhile. It makes it more meaningful that we have devoted this entire season to celebrating his life and consequent sacrifice on our behalf. A wonderful gift at Christmas.

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