Friday, December 6, 2013

What is the Difference Between Communion and the Sacrament?

A few things. I want to start with what is similar, though. Just before Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane to suffer for all of our sins and afflictions, He and His disciples had the Passover feast, which is often called the Last Supper. Here Christ introduced an ordinance to supersede the need of the Passover, which is sometimes called the Lord's Supper. Christ broke and blessed bread, then commanded His disciples to eat it in remembrance of his body that would soon be sacrificed for us all. Then He poured wine, blessed it, and commanded his disciples to drink it in remembrance of His blood that would be shed in great drops for us. This account is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Today, Christians everywhere participate in this sacred ordinance on a regular basis to remember the sacrifice of our Savior and recommit to living righteously. Some call it the Sacrament, like the LDS Church. Others call it Communion, like the Catholic Church. It's called Communion because the participants seek fellowship with Christ.

Now, I am not an expert on any church other than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even then, I'm not what you would consider an expert on the LDS Church. The only Communion service I am even slightly familiar with is that of the Catholic Church. That's because my current companion, Sister Clendon, attended a Catholic High School in New Zealand for five years and I asked her a bunch of questions. This is what I gathered from her and other Catholics I've had the pleasure of meeting.

The emblems of communion are a wafer and wine. The priest blesses the wafer. It is placed on the participant's tongue. The wafer sits on the tongue and dissolves; it's not chewed. The wine seems to be optional, reserved for teachers, older youth, and clergy. They drink from the same cup and wipe the rim with a rag between each person. What really sets Catholics apart is their belief in Transubstantiation: that the wafer and wine become the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

At an LDS Sacrament meeting, the ordinance looks a little different. The emblems are blessed by Aaronic Priesthood holders in the office of a Priest. They can be as young as 16. They bless the Sacrament with the same two prayers each time, one for bread, and one for the water. Then the Deacons, who can be as young as 12, pass the sacrament to each person in the congregation. We use water instead of wine for two reasons given in a revelation to Joseph Smith. First, we were commanded not to drink wine, especially that purchased from the Church's enemies at the time. Second, it doesn't matter what we eat or drink so long as we remember why we're participating in this ordinance. So if someone in the congregation can't have gluten, crackers or gluten-free bread can be used. We believe that the emblems are representations of Christ's body and blood.

The Sacrament is the most important part of coming to church on Sunday. It is when we renew our covenants, especially our baptismal covenant, and helps us remain worthy of the Holy Ghost. It is a commandment to partake of the Sacrament and attend our church meetings. It is so simple, and yet such a powerful symbol in our lives, to always remember the sacrifice of our Savior.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Sister Valerie- That was a good explanation. I appreciate it.