Since being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident a couple of years back, I rarely if ever associate the word “flashback” with anything positive.
In our Priesthood lesson, we were discussing the Sacrament (the Mormon word used for what other Christians typically call the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Communion). Someone in the class mentioned his experience in taking the Sacrament to someone who was homebound and what it meant to him and to the person he had served. (I’ve done the same thing more than once, but my most memorable experience was seeing an elderly sister start to pass out, only to realize that the young priest I was with was standing on her oxygen tube).
When he mentioned this, I immediately remembered something from the weeks following the wreck that had completely escaped my memory. I recalled that when my family was stuck at home, each Sunday the Aaronic Priesthood holders (often a pretty big group of them) would show up at my house to administer the Sacrament. My wife has since reminded me that they were invariably brought by the Deacon’s quorum adviser, who happens to be my best friend. As I sat in class, I was struck with what I will call a “spiritual memory.” I don’t remember the specifics of what happened, but I remember very well how I felt when they were there.
It was a sacred moment for me and my family, as well as for the non-Mormons who seemed to be around each Sunday. It was a reminder of how important it is to renew our baptismal covenants each week; so important, in fact, that if we cannot get to church ourselves to do it, the Lord will send His servants to us. I was on the verge of tears in class when this memory rushed back to me so powerfully.
This brought to mind other sacred memories of the Sacrament. I remember an elderly brother in our ward who was terminally ill and in a wheelchair. Despite significant health issues, more often than not he was at church on Sunday, even if only long enough to take the Sacrament and go home. I learned that in order to come to church, this brother had to forego taking his pain medications, and he only failed to attend when the pain was unbearable. When I witnessed his sacrifice each week and understood what he endured in order to be there, it made the Sacrament more meaningful to me and to others who knew what he was experiencing.
I remembered several years ago seeing a new priest stumbling repeatedly through the sacramental prayer, unable to get through the blessing on the bread without making mistakes and having to start over. I watched as our bishop patiently encouraged him to try again and, finally, got up from his seat, knelt down next to the young man, and helped him through. I was so impressed with the example of Christlike love and patience demonstrated by this bishop. He reflected in his actions an important principle of discipleship: Just when we think we’ve screwed up beyond repair, the Lord comes to our aid and ushers us through the difficulties.
I’ll freely admit that I do not think about such moments enough. Too often the Sacrament is just a thing I do on Sundays, with little thought for its importance. That needs to change. If I have a hard time imagining the sufferings of the Savior, then at the very least I can reflect upon what I have seen with my own eyes: The service of young men bringing the Sacrament to me when I could barely stand; a faithful man willing to endure significant pain in exchange for the privilege of partaking of the emblems of Christ’s own suffering, and a bishop kneeling with Christlike love to help a young priest do something he was unable to do on his own.