All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ


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Two Prayers

When I started this series about the LDS ordinance of the sacrament, I thought it would take me two posts to cover the sacrament prayer. As I sat down to dissect the prayers into areas I wanted to cover, however, I realised that it was going to take longer than that. So this is the first of, well, several short articles about the sacrament prayers themselves. If you want to see a list of all of the topics on the sacrament covered so far, go here.

As I’ve said before, the prayer on the sacrament must be word perfect. Any mistake must be remedied, and the Priest will repeat the prayer until every word spoken is correct. I love the symbolism of that.

Yes, we are commanded to be perfect even as the resurrected Christ, or His Father in Heaven, are perfect (3 Nephi 12:48). But we can’t actually achieve that. Not any of us. We all make mistakes and transgress the laws the Lord has given us.

But that’s okay. Because of the atonement of Christ, the emblems of which are displayed on the sacrament table, we can all partake of His grace, repent, and start again. No matter how many times we’ve failed, we can try again. Thus, even with our imperfections, we can keep this commandment by being “perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:33).

Indeed, we can only obey this commandment to be perfect through our Saviour and Redeemer, and the requirement for perfection in the prayers on the sacrament is a beautiful metaphor for that. Continue reading


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When God Hath Tried Me

I was asked to give a talk in our Stake General Priesthood meeting last night about how we can support those who suffer from depression. For those of you who know me, it is a topic close to my heart. Depression is something that I am unfortunately far too familiar with, but I have recently been discussing it much more in the hopes to provide both some degree of comfort for others who suffer, as well as a greater understanding for those who don’t.

Anyway, here is my talk, below. Because it is a talk to men who hold the Priesthood, there are references to Priesthood Quorums, and to Home Teachers (in the LDS church, Home Teachers are men who are asked visit individuals and families in the church to watch over and care for them), but the principles apply more broadly.

Whatever your own circumstance, I hope you find it helpful.

 

As the book of Job begins in the Old Testament, the writer tells us that Job was a, “perfect and upright [man], and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1) In addition to his righteousness, Job had also been blessed with great material possessions, making him “the greatest of all the men in the east.” (Job 1:3)

Within a short period of time, however, Job had lost everything. His herds had been stolen, his servants slain. His children had all died in tragic accidents and his property had been destroyed. And after all of this, his body then became covered, “with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” (Job 2:7)

When we speak of Job, we often refer to his continued faith despite his trials – certainly a lesson worth studying – but I would like to focus on a different aspect of Job’s experience. Continue reading


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They Did Kneel Down With The Church

Image © Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc

This post is part of my series about the LDS ordinance of the sacrament. In my previous posts I’ve discussed the table, the cloth covering and the Priests. For those articles, as well as to see what else I’m currently expecting to write in the series, go here.

When Jesus introduced the sacrament amongst His Jerusalem apostles, Matthew tells us that He “blessed” and “gave thanks” for the bread and wine. He then offered it to His disciples. (Matthew 26:26-27) A single blessing or thanks, one for the bread and another for the wine, and then each of the men with Him partook of it.

If you stop and think about it, that’s really interesting, because it is so unusual. Most other LDS ordinances are very much one to one. Baptism: a single prayer for a single person. Confirmation: a single prayer for a single person. Priesthood ordinations: a single prayer for a single person. Etc. We have many communal worship experiences. Not so, with ordinances.*

Indeed, for the sacrament, it seems that the communal experience is an integral part of the ordinance. Moroni tells us that those ministering the Sacrament, “…did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ…” (Moroni 4:2, emphasis added. See also D&C 20:76)

The question we must ask ourselves is therefore why the communal experience is so important. Continue reading


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Beautiful Irony

© Copyright, Intellectual Reserve International

This is the fifth post in my series about the LDS ordinance of the sacrament. All the previous posts can be found here. So far, I’ve talked about how the sacrament table serves as an altar for us today here, and the many wonderful symbolisms the white cloth covering the sacrament represents here and here.

When Christ introduced the sacrament, Matthew tells us that, “Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples…. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them…” (Matthew 26:26-27)

I’ll be discussing the bread and wine/water in later posts. Here I want to focus on those who represent Jesus in this ordinance – the Priests (or Melchizedek Priesthood holders).

It was a couple of years ago now that I was pondering the sacrament and suddenly realised the beautiful irony in its blessing. That the Priests represent Christ is generally well understood. Indeed, in any instance where the Priesthood is being used, the one doing so represents our Saviour.

But there is something special about it in the sacrament. You see, in this ordinance the Priests don’t only bless the emblems of Christ’s atonement: they are also the ones who break the bread. Think about that. Continue reading


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Concealing and Revealing

The ark of the covenant was considered a sacred item of great power amongst the Israelites. It's normal place was in the Temple, behind a veil, in the Holy of Holies

The ark of the covenant was considered a sacred item of great power amongst the Israelites. It’s normal place was in the Temple, behind a veil, in the Holy of Holies

This is the 4th post in a series about the LDS ordinance of the Sacrament. You can find the list and links to all of the articles in the series here.

In the last article, I discussed the white cloth used to cover the bread and water sitting atop the sacrament table. Just as the emblems of Christ’s atoning sacrifice remain covered – completely hidden – beneath the cloth until the moment they are blessed and passed to us, so Christ’s mercy and grace is hidden from us until the very moment we need them. Not the moment we think we need His help. Rather, the very moment He knows we need it.

I love that symbolism, but there is more to the sacrament cloth than that.

On the Sunday morning of Christ’s resurrection, the apostles Peter and John ran to the tomb after hearing Mary’s witness. When Peter entered the empty chamber he found the linen clothes used to wrap Jesus’ body, apparently simply left where they were when Jesus rose.

Not long ago, if you’d asked me about the state of those linen clothes, I would have said they were folded neatly. But they weren’t – at least the Bible doesn’t say they were. In fact, only one part of the linen clothes had been folded and carefully placed:

“And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” (John 20:7, emphasis added)

I find it really interesting that it was only the cloths covering the Saviour’s head that had been folded neatly. He was happy to leave the fabric covering His body where it was, but took especial care with those that had covered His head. There must be a reason for that. And the fact that the apostle John specifically references this is unlikely to be accidental. What was so special about the head cloths? Continue reading


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A White Covering

This is a continuation of my series of posts discussing the ordinance of the sacrament within the LDS faith. The first post, Remembering Him, is here.

Image © 2015, Intellectual Reserve, Inc

Image © 2015, Intellectual Reserve, Inc

In my last post, Our Modern Altars, I talked about the table upon which the bread and water of the sacrament is placed. A table which serves as a modern altar for us. Today I’m going to discuss the cloth covering the same bread and water.

I started preparing this post thinking that one would be enough to talk about the significance and symbolism of the sacrament cloth, but it has developed so much I’ll need to take two. So this is part 1.

Indeed, there is so much to ponder when considering the sacrament cloth it’s difficult to know where to start. So perhaps it’s best to start with the Church handbook.

“Sacrament tablecloths should be white, nontransparent, clean, and pressed.” (Handbook 2, Administering the Church, 20.4.2)

It would be easy to read this sentence and think that only the colour of the cloth is symbolic, white being the symbolic colour of purity; the other requirements being primarily signs of respect. And while having a clean and pressed cloth certainly does show respect, there is more to it than that. Continue reading


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Our Modern Altars

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I’ve written about the Sacrament on a couple of occasions before. The last time more than 18 months ago, and in it I promised my next posts would be looking at this wonderful ordinance in more detail. Ahem… well, a lot has happened during those 18 months. Sorry for the delay.

And as I sat in my Church meetings today and listened once again to the words of the Sacrament, I felt I needed to continue on from that post so long ago.

For us in the LDS faith, the Sacrament consists of the communal sharing of broken bread and cups of water, and is directly derived from the Last Supper. In other faiths it may be called the Eucharist or Communion. They all share similarities. Thus, although I am focussing my discussion on the LDS sacramental rites, many aspects may hold meaning for other faiths too.

The New Testament account of the Lord’s Last Supper in the Gospel of Matthew is short:

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

We’ll look more closely at these words in a later post. But for the moment it is worth reminding ourselves that this was the last act Jesus took with his chosen Disciples before He went to Gethsemane. It was the culmination of His teachings to them. Continue reading


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Depression and Church service.

© Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Christ taught the importance of both faith and works

© Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Christ taught the importance of both faith and works

I was very blessed to have been born into a Christian family. My parents never wavered in their testimonies or Church attendance, and I grew up learning from them the importance of it.

I’m not sure at what point I began to understand the difference between the Church and the gospel – the earthly (though divinely mandate and approved) organisation through which gospel ordinances are performed in our day, versus the eternal principles by which our future happiness is governed.

At some point I did, though. And at about the same time, I also began to notice other principles we often conflate within the Church. Believing versus faith. Doing versus becoming. Reading  – or even studying – versus feasting.

Whichever set of words you look at, they’re both necessary: essential even. But our ultimate aim is always the second. We strengthen our belief until it grows into faith. We study the scriptures until we come to a point where we love them: our soul “hungers”, as Enos put it, and we desire to feast (see Enos 1:4). We do the things the Lord commands until we become a people who would naturally choose those things anyway – even without commandments, and without thinking about it.

It wasn’t until my darkest time of despair, however, that I realised my understanding of these things was intellectual only, a mere grasp of the theory. Continue reading


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Remembering Him

Original photo 'Bread and Wine', copyright ingridhs

Original photo ‘Bread and Wine’, copyright ingridhs

On His final mortal night with His specially chosen disciples, Jesus shared a Passover meal; introducing a new rite with bread and wine. The event itself has become known as the Last Supper. The new ordinance Christ introduced that night continues in most Christian churches today, and is usually called Communion, or the Eucharist. Within the LDS tradition, it is called the Sacrament.

A few months ago I posted a short poem about the Sacrament, but I’d like to spend a little more time sharing more of my thoughts and feelings on this beautiful ordinance, looking more broadly at the ordinance’s introduction before specifically looking at some of the symbolism used. I will specifically be looking at the LDS ‘version’ of the Sacrament, but I think many of the principles could have application in other faiths, too. If you’re not LDS and have questions about any differences, please feel free to send me a message or add a comment and I’ll be happy to reply.

The New Testament account of the introduction of the Sacrament shows us how the Saviour adapted it from the Passover meal, linking so beautifully the old law with the new. Jesus didn’t destroy the Law of Moses when He came. Rather, He brought with Him new light; new understanding; more blessings. It was a transition from one true gospel to a higher version of the same. His teachings of the Sacrament to His disciples were amongst the last He gave. It’s worth thinking about that. He had spent three years ministering, teaching and healing. Over that time He had carefully expanded the spiritual horizons of his chosen Apostles; giving them line upon line. And at the end of that time, when the Atonement itself lay immediately before Him and He would soon depart mortality, He taught them of the Sacrament. Continue reading


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Yearning for Heaven

armsOver the years, I’ve learned loads of things at Church. In my adult years, though – like many life-long members of the LDS Church I’m sure – very little has come from the actual words spoken in meetings and lessons. Because those who speak to, or teach us, in Church have to cater for a wide range of gospel understanding, our lessons and sermons tend to be fairly basic in content; with lessons getting recycled every four years.

I still enjoy them, though, for a couple of reasons. First, on odd occasions I’m able to make a contribution to a topic which I hope others find helpful (certainly others make contributions which I find helpful). Second – and relevant for this post – the things I learn are most often from words that are not audible. They are from the words and feelings that come directly into my mind.

That was the case today. The sermons in our main worship meeting were on the subject of prayer and while what the speakers had to say was good, there was something else I learned on the subject; something they didn’t talk about. A phrase came directly to my mind which cause me to ponder quite deeply; to examine myself and my approach to prayer. It is something which will change the way I approach my Heavenly Father when I kneel before him in my solitude. It affects the power of my prayers. Continue reading