“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Dec. 1987, 27–28
Doreen Woolley, seminary teacher, Las Vegas, Nevada. The sacrament prayers speak of our doing three things: (1) eating and drinking “in remembrance” of the body and blood of Christ, which the sacrament represents; (2) taking upon ourselves Christ’s name and always remembering him; and (3) keeping the commandments. (See D&C 20:77–79.)
In return, the Lord promises that we may “always have his Spirit to be with [us].” What a glorious promise! But what does it mean to remember, or to do something “in remembrance”?
The definitions of remember include “to bring to mind or think of again,” “to keep in mind for attention or consideration,” and “to retain in the memory.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. “remember.”) Remembering Christ, then, involves thinking about him often and focusing our attention on his teachings and his atonement for our sins. Concentrating on Christ and his atonement leads us to evaluate how well we are keeping our covenants with him and making the effort to bring our lives into harmony with his teachings. This in turn draws us closer to the Lord as we enjoy the companionship of the Spirit.
President David O. McKay taught that there are three fundamental things associated with partaking of the sacrament:
“The first is self-discernment. It is introspection. … We should partake worthily, each one examining himself with respect to his worthiness.
“Secondly, there is a covenant made. …
“Thirdly, there is another blessing, and that is a sense of close relationship with the Lord.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1946, p. 112; italics in original.)
Thus, when we partake of the sacrament, we remember the past and contemplate the present as we recommit ourselves to following Christ’s example in the future. It is comforting to know that we are not alone in that endeavor; we can receive help and strength from our Father in Heaven. Ammon recognized this fact when he said, “I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.” (Alma 26:12.) As we add to our spiritual power through partaking of the sacrament and remembering Christ, we will find it easier to control our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Remembering the Lord also means getting to know him. We can come to know him by reading the scriptures, “feast[ing] upon the words of Christ.” (2 Ne. 32:3.) Another way we can come to know him is by following his example. As our actions become more Christlike, we begin to understand his great love for us—and we begin to learn to love as he loves. Mormon taught that “charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (Moro. 7:47–48.)
When we have true charity, we remember Christ in all that we do. The choices we make are the ones he would have us make, and our lives reflect his will. Our everyday actions become Christlike, and we are literally “changed from [our] carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters.” (Mosiah 27:25.)
We can find examples of those who understand this principle all around us. One sister I know recently served as a volunteer guide at a convention for the blind. Church members were asked to participate with members of other denominations in helping participants find workshops, rooms, and information. But this sister’s service went beyond the convention. She became the friend of a lonely woman who had no family to look after her. She helped the woman with shopping, daily tasks, and trips to the doctor. When the woman was seriously ill, this sister sat by her bed to give comfort. At the woman’s death, the sister made all the funeral arrangements and contacted the one relative the woman had mentioned.
Such dedicated service went far beyond what most of the volunteers did at the convention! They met the needs of the moment, but she went beyond that to give real Christlike service. That’s what remembering Christ is about. It is practicing the principles he lived and taught and becoming more and more like him. Through doing as Christ did, our understanding deepens and our ability to serve grows. We become more able to “put off” the “natural man” (see Mosiah 3:19) and to learn to heed the promptings of the Spirit.
In a way, keeping the Lord in our thoughts is like storing information in a computer. Each Christlike action “programs” our memory for recall when needed. When we have “stored” many such actions, they become easy to “retrieve,” and we begin to perform them as easily, almost as automatically, as a computer retrieves stored information when the right keys are pushed.
While we are yet beginners in understanding the principle of remembrance and how it can lead us to the love of Christ, we sometimes need tangible “reminders” to assist us. Many things can serve as “reminders”: the sacrament; the scriptures; pictures of Christ, temples, and General Authorities; worthy music; family home evenings; service; personal and family prayers; taking upon ourselves his name and striving to adopt his attributes, attitudes, and actions.
Although the Lord has commanded us to “practise virtue and holiness before [him]” (D&C 38:24), he knows that we will not become perfect overnight. The key is practice. As we practice remembering Christ each week during the sacrament, it becomes easier to follow his example. As we follow him, we become more like him, receiving “grace for grace,” going from “grace to grace” until we are glorified in Christ and receive a fulness of the glory of God. (See D&C 93:11–20.)