Due to travel, stake conference, illness, and general conference, there was about a four week period in September/October where I didn’t take the sacrament. I found that I missed it greatly. I’m not really much for ritual, but there is something holy about meeting together with fellow saints to remember what Jesus did for us. I also appreciate that it’s something that unites Christians across churches and denominations – it’s something that nearly all of us do in some form or another.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.”Matthew 26:26
Sometimes it can feel rote. It’s just what we do after we sing and before we hear talks. But there are times where I’ve experienced it as transcendent, both in LDS and non-LDS settings.
- I joined the church as a Beehive. The first time after my baptism when I got to take the sacrament, I felt like I was part of the community. I had wanted to be baptized for quite some time, and my parents finally permitted it. Taking the sacrament was the culmination of what I had been yearning for.
- When I studied abroad in Jerusalem in law school, I was the only LDS student in my program. On Saturday, I walked the 20 minute walk to church (the buses and cabs didn’t operate on Saturday) to worship with the tiny branch there – there were about a dozen of us. I didn’t know any of the people there, but I instantly made friends. We came from all around the world, but we were all united in our devotion to Jesus. I took the sacrament while having a beautiful view of Jerusalem. I was struck by the splendor of it all.
- When I was in law school, I worked part-time as a caregiver for a woman whose father was a pastor in a local Disciples of Christ church. I had been invited to sing at the church one Sunday because he found out that I had sung opera in college. I sang, and then communion was served. The woman I was a caregiver for was the one who served it to me. It was a touching moment, seeing how we were both able to serve each other in our own ways.
- I attended law school at a Catholic university. The law school’s centennial happened while I was there, and they held a mass to celebrate it and invited the entire student body. I attended. When it came time for communion to be served, I had intended to just sit quietly in my seat because I was aware that Catholics are strict about not serving communion to non-Catholics. However, the priest specifically invited everyone to come up and said that anyone who wasn’t taking communion could receive a blessing instead. So when it was my pew’s turn, I went up there and the priest said a very brief blessing to me. I don’t remember the words, but I remember how touched I was to be included.
- When I lived in California, the midsingles went on an annual cabin retreat up in the mountains for a weekend. The first year I went, we had gotten permission to have a sacrament meeting at the cabin. So I sat with about two dozen other people who I had just met a few days before, and we sat around a fire while watching the snow fall. Someone blessed the bread and passed it to us, blessed the water and passed it to us, and then we shared our testimonies.
- When I moved into my current ward, I was spiritually battered and bruised. My previous ward had made it clear that I was unwelcome because I was single. I was denied a calling, an opportunity to be a visiting teacher, and unity with the saints because I lacked a man. (Thank goodness my temple recommend didn’t expire while I was in that ward, or they probably would have found a way to deny me that, too.) Church was agony, and moving out of that ward saved my soul. The first Sunday in my new ward, it took everything I had in me to show up. I was afraid I would be mistreated again. But I wasn’t. I was warmly welcomed. And when the sacrament tray was passed to me, I was fed.
I want to make the experience transcendent every Sunday. As I think about the times when it was transcendent, I see a few common themes. I was among friends, I was broken-hearted, and I was met where I was. Every Sunday, Jesus meets us where we are, asks us to bring our broken hearts, and calls us His friends. And when I take the sacrament this Sunday, I’m going to remember that.