What was the last thing you really prepared for? Maybe you prepared for a performance or a sporting event? Maybe you prepared for a hot date? Maybe you prepared for a test? Maybe you prepared for bed? Maybe you prepared to provide anesthesia to a 330-pound special needs youth with situational combative disorder as he is screaming at you to leave the room? Maybe?
We prepare for things all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. Maybe you put on a helmet and funny pants before you ride your bike. Other times the preparation can be quite extensive…
One of the last things I really had to prepare for was the certification exam that followed my graduate school training. I spent 24 months thinking about that stupid test. Literally, every moment I wasn’t studying, I was thinking about how I should have been studying. After I graduated and before I took the exam, I spend hours at the library reviewing notes and taking mock exams. I eventually got so sick of preparing for the exam that I didn’t even care if I passed. I just had to take it. Fortunately, my preparation was sufficient and I benefited greatly.
Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be happy. He wants us to get an ‘A’ in life. He has done everything that he could have in order for us to accomplish this task. He has provided a perfect example for us to follow, in addition to the Master, since birth He has surrounded us with teachers. He employs countless diverse and unique methods of teaching in order to reach us personally. He has even provided a syllabus for us. This syllabus clearly defines not only what is expected of us, but also what we can expect from Him. This includes his continually outstretched arms, unconditional love, unending patience, a merciful policy on make-up or late work, and a 24/7 open door policy. Best of all, He has offered us a tutor. This tutor is amazing. He too, is available 24/7. He has many titles, as He does many things. He teaches, warns, comforts, guides, and brings things to our remembrance. He helps us during our preparation and performance. This tutor, of course is the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit.
So how can we always have His Spirit to be with us? By preparing for and participating in the ordinance of the sacrament.
We do it all the time. In fact, we do it so often that we may occasionally forget its significance. Sacrament meeting is the “most sacred, the most Holy of all the meetings of the Church1” because of the blessing, passing, and partaking of the sacrament.
When was the last time you really prepared for the sacrament? I would argue that our preparation should include more than putting a tie on and singing. Don’t get me wrong, appropriate dress and sacrament hymns are an essential part of preparing for the sacrament. I think that we, or at least I, can do so much more as we prepare to make sacred covenants and ponder and appreciate the most important event in the history of history.
We should prepare for the sacrament with reverence and wonder. How often do we? Do we take time to ponder, reflect, and repent? Do we approach our Sabbath day worship with as much excitement and anticipation as our baptism? I know that I don’t.
I can become better though. We all can. Instructions are built into the syllabus. Section XIII, Article IV, Principle II.
Concerning reverence and solemnity during the sacrament… I have children. To me, it is a major victory to simply get through sacrament meeting without any bloodshed. The good news is that our preparation isn’t confined to a specific time or place. We all prepare in different ways. To me, any time we remember Christ (partially fulfilling our part of the covenant), we prepare for the sacrament.
We can remember his miraculous ministry and teachings. We can remember times when we have felt His love. We can remember Him as we decide what music we listen to or how we speak to others. We can remember Him as we go throughout our day seeing only the good in others.
We can also remember His suffering, pain, and sorrow. As we are struggling or frustrated, we can remember that He continues to work to bring about happiness and hope. We can remember Him and find strength beyond our own. As we remember Him, we can be of good cheer.2 Always remembering our Savior will help us remain unspotted from the world, become closer to the spirit, and feel more peace. As we do this, His Spirit will always be with us. That’s a promise.
I can certainly do a better job at always remembering as I prepare for what should be the highlight of my week: partaking of the sacrament.
1 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation
2 John 16:33