by Jason Godfrey
Serving as an Apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1861, Elder Wilford Woodruff began a discourse with the following: “It is truly good to sit and hear the word of the Lord, and it is truly a good thing to believe in it; but it is still better to practice it.”1 This brief yet powerful message was not only for the Saints living in Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, but it was truly a mantra that Wilford Woodruff believed in—beginning with his conversion in 1833 through to his death in 1898.
In my Come, Follow Me study, I recently reread the following chapters in the New Testament: Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 13. I loved being reminded of the Savior’s teachings in these verses, of the importance of partaking of the sacrament and loving my neighbor. It was especially meaningful to feel subtle promptings from the Holy Spirit reminding me of the importance and power of remembering my Savior, Jesus Christ, and all that He has done for me. Mark 14:22–24 provides the following insights into the Savior’s administration of the sacrament:
“And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
“And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
“And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”
Since that sacred moment, partaking of the sacrament has continued to be a significant ordinance for Latter-day Saints to participate in each week. Of this significance, Wilford Woodruff expressed at the 1887 semi-annual general conference:
As Latter-day Saints, it is our general custom to partake of the sacrament once a week. If the teachings of our Lord, in remembrance of whom we observe this sacred ordinance, be regarded, no one who has trespassed can be permitted to share in it until he has made reconciliation. It is the express commandment of the Lord Jesus that no one shall be permitted to partake of His flesh and blood unworthily. A more perfect system to prevent the existence of improper feelings and wrongs among brethren and sisters can not be imagined. If the Saints do their duty, difficulties do not remain unsettled beyond the Lord’s day when they assemble to eat and drink in remembrance of Him.2
I know that there is power in partaking of the Lord’s sacrament each week. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to remember Him and hope that I will be able to practice the teachings that I believe in more reverently and efficiently. As I take the words and teachings of Wilford Woodruff and our modern-day prophets and apostles to heart, I hope to obtain the forgiveness and sanctification that is promised in the words of this beautiful hymn:
In remembrance of thy suff’ring,
Lord, these emblems we partake,
when thyself thou gav’st an off’ring,
dying for the sinner’s sake.
We’ve forgiven as thou biddest
all who’ve trespassed against us.
Lord, forgive, as we’ve forgiven,
all thou seest amiss in us.
Purify our hearts, our Savior;
let us go not far astray,
that we may be counted worthy
of thy Spirit day by day.
When temptations are before us,
give us strength to overcome.
Always guard us in our wand’rings
till we leave our earthly home.
When thou comest in thy glory
to this earth to rule and reign,
and with faithful ones partakest
of the bread and wine again,
may we be among the number
worthy to surround the board,
and partake anew the emblems
of the suff’rings of our Lord.3
Jason Godfrey graduated from Weber State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science Composite Teaching with an emphasis in History. Passionate about both Church and American West history, Jason’s undergraduate research focused on the historic settlement of Mormon Row located in present-day Grand Teton National Park. Before beginning his college career, Jason served as a full-time missionary in the England Birmingham Mission from 2016 to 2018. Working first as an Editorial Assistant and currently as Transcription Team Lead, Jason is humbled and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project. Filled with a deep love and respect for his pioneer heritage as well as the history of the Church from a young age, Jason is learning important lessons from the life experiences and wisdom of Wilford Woodruff that he hopes other individuals and families will find important as well.
- Discourse by Wilford Woodruff, May 12, 1861, p. 1, The Wilford Woodruff Papers, wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/discourse/1861-05-12.
- Epistle to the Saints, October 8, 1887, p. 2, The Wilford Woodruff Papers, wilfordwoodruffpapers.org/epistle-to-the-saints/1887-10-08.
- “In Remembrance of Thy Suffering,” Hymns, no. 183, ChurchofJesusChrist.org/hymns.