Guest Post: A Few Questions about the Sacrament and Single Sisters #CopingWithCOVID19
By Maren C.
Recently President Russell M. Nelson caused quite a stir when he—or whoever administers his social media accounts—posted a few photos to Facebook, along with a lengthy quote by Sister Wendy N. Nelson, describing how they prepare for and hold home church during the pandemic. As might be expected, the post garnered a lot of attention, most especially for the photo depicting the Prophet vacuuming. However I would like to draw attention to another aspect of the post. President Nelson said, “I am especially concerned for those who desire to partake of the sacrament but do not have a worthy priesthood-bearer in their home. They should let their bishop know that they would like to have his delegated representatives come to their home to administer the sacrament. If they wish to provide their own bread and water, based on their specific needs, they may do so.”
This is an enlightening statement, and certainly more specific instructions then we have yet heard regarding those members (read: general women) without a priesthood-holder (read: always a man) in the home. And yet it brings up a plethora of further questions for me.
If the “specific needs” of the single sister include not exposing herself or anyone else to a potentially deadly virus, than yes, she may provide her own bread and water. Given the high degree of importance we can presumably attach to the above-stated need, then may we presume that the word “provide” in this instance can be extended to also mean “prepare?” Are single sisters authorized to break their own bread into little pieces and pour their own water into a cup, in preparation for it to be blessed as sacrament bread and water? Also, assuming the single sister had contacted her Bishop and arranged to have his delegated representatives come to her home to administer the sacrament, we might there run into another problem. What if the delegated representative of God’s priesthood on earth does not want to come into the single sister’s home, for fear of contacting or possibly spreading a potentially deadly virus?
President Nelson’s statement said “to their home” not “in their home,” so this may provide us with a loophole that will allow the single sister to partake of the sacrament while also keeping everyone safe. Allow me to explain:
The single sister would remain in her home and hold the non-blessed but prior-prepared bread and water up to her front door. The priesthood-holder would then say the sacrament prayers (perhaps a bit more loudly than usual) while standing exactly on the other side of the door.
Of course this raises another questions: Can the power of the priesthood travel through solid surfaces? I do not know, so just to be on the safe side, I will present an alternative that I thought of.
The single sister, having already completed the non-priesthood job of *preparing* the sacrament bread and water, could then open a window somewhere in her home. She could place the plate containing the bread and water on a table right next to the open window. The priesthood-holder would then stand on her front lawn, at a safe distance of at least six feet away, and say (again, perhaps slightly louder than usual) the required sacrament blessings.
This should work, right? The single sister can partake of the sacrament in her own home, without putting anyone’s life in danger. But again, more questions arise.
What if there is a screen on the window? What if it’s one of those really old screens that can’t be removed? What if the woman lives in an apartment complex several floors up, and the priesthood-holder is reluctant to enter and expose himself to the aforementioned potentially deadly virus? Can the sacrament prayers be shouted from the street facing her open window? Perhaps through a bullhorn?
Come to think of it, maybe there’s a reason President Nelson declined to get into the specifics on administering the sacrament to single women during a pandemic . . .
Maren C. is an ESL teacher by training and an aspiring poet, currently trying to survive the pandemic with her husband and two kids in the Utah suburbs.