By Eric Johnson
Similar to the Protestant version of the “Lord’s Supper” or “communion,” the sacrament in Mormonism is passed out weekly at the Sunday service in LDS chapels. It is comprised of bread and water. Latter-day Saints are supposed to repent of their sins at the time the sacrament is passed and remember the covenants they made with God at their baptism to keep all the commandments.
Similar to the practice in the Protestant churches, the bread symbolizes the body of Jesus. In earlier days, wine was used to symbolize the blood of Jesus. However, this was later changed and water was substituted. Worthy children and adults are encouraged to partake in this ordinance. Apostle Robert D. Hales stated, “Every Sunday, the growing child, together with other worthy Saints, receives the sacrament at the hands of priesthood bearers—the bread representing the body of Christ, and the water representing his blood that was shed to atone for our sins” (“Blessings of the Priesthood,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 1995, p. 33). The church handbook says that nonmembers should not be prohibited from taking the elements. It says,
Although the sacrament is for Church members, the bishopric should not announce that it will be passed to members only, and nothing should be done to prevent nonmembers from partaking of it (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 2010, p. 173).
Qualified Aaronic Priesthood-holding boys 11 and older (called deacons) are responsible to pass around the elements during the set time in the service. A special prayer is given, as detailed in this church manual:
Jesus has given us special prayers for the sacrament. This is the prayer for 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.” This is the prayer for the water: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this water 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” (Gospel Fundamentals, 2002, pp. 119-120).
Members are encouraged to repent of their sins. The church’s website explains:
In preparation for the sacrament each week, Church members take time to examine their lives and repent of sins. They do not need to be perfect in order to partake of the sacrament, but they should have a spirit of humility and repentance in their hearts. Source
In addition, Latter-day Saints are taught that they should both remember and renew the covenants that were made at baptism. Hales wrote,
Each week as we participate in the ordinance of the sacrament, we renew the promise of the Savior’s birth in our own lives. We take His name upon us, and we renew our covenant of obedience and our promise that we will always remember Him” (“The Promise of Christmas,” Ensign, December 2013, p. 19).
Thirteenth President Ezra Taft Benson said that keeping these covenants is how a Latter-day Saint “merits” God’s mercy:
We go to our chapels each week to worship the Lord and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. We thereby promise to take His name upon us, to always remember Him, and keep all His commandments. Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God. Only as we do this may we deserve His blessings and merit His mercy. (Come unto Christ, p. 36.) (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 442).
The church website puts it this way:
Partaking of the sacrament is a witness to God that the remembrance of His Son will extend beyond the short time of that sacred ordinance. Part of this ordinance is a promise to remember Him always and a witness of individual willingness to take upon oneself the name of Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments. In partaking of the sacrament and making these commitments, Church members renew the covenant they made at baptism (see Mosiah 18:8–10; Doctrine and Covenants 20:37). Source
What does Christianity Teach
There are different ways that people who call themselves “Christian” partake of the Eucharist / Lord’s Supper / Communion. Those of the Roman Catholic faith teach that Jesus’s actually body and blood can be found in the elements; this is called transubstantiation. Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Jesus can be found “within” the elements; this is called consubstantiation. For the majority of Protestants, however, the breaking of break and the drinking of wine / grape juice is symbolic and meant for believers who believe in the resurrection of Jesus. It is also a time to examine’s one’s heart, although promises (or an “agreement to keep all the covenants”) are not encouraged since it is impossible to do.
Other Articles to Consider
Test Your Understanding
- How often is the sacrament passed out?
A) Every day B) Once a week C) Every other week D) Once a month
2. Which elements are used in the sacrament?
A) Bread and wine B) Crackers and wine C) Bread and water D) Crackers and water
3. T F When the elements are passed around, nonmembers are allowed to partake if they wish.
4. Those who pass out the elements are:
A) Aaronic priesthood holders
B) Melchizedek priesthood holders
C) Girls 12 and older
D) Single women
5. What do Mormons do NOT do when they partake of the sacrament?
A) Promise to remember God always
B) Promise to keep commandments
C) Renew covenants
D) All of the above