Sunday, September 13, 2015

Farewell!

    Good morning Brothers & Sisters! So this is kind of weird for me because usually when someone gives their farewell talk, they are giving it from their home ward with their Bishopric and leaders and teachers they’ve grown up with, a ward thats like their family. Since we moved to Idaho 2 and a half years ago, I have been in 5 different wards: one a student ward down in Logan at Utah State and one in Montana where I’ve been all summer. So, don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of you but this is probably the first time some of you guys have ever even seen me so I will go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Emma Brinton, I am Laura and Paul’s oldest daughter and I received my mission call to Oakland/San Francisco & the Oakland visitors center!
So as a prospective missionary, I felt the need to make sure I had a testimony of everything that I am going to be teaching about! This may seem silly but I kind of went through a mental checklist like okay do I know the Book of Mormon is true? Do I have a testimony of Joseph Smith? The sacrament came to my mind and I realized that I had always taken the sacrament for granted and I needed to truly come to understand the sacredness of this ordinance which had unfortunately become monotonous in my life. To my surprise, I found out that my topic for today was the sacrament and preparing for this scared ordinance. I was overcome with humility as I realized that this would be a perfect experience and time in my life to study and learn about the sacrament, to help build my testimony of it. I love how the Lord does that. He knows each and every one of us so well. 
In a talk entitled “Blessings of the Sacrament,” it says:

“If we properly prepare for the sacrament, we can transform our lives.”

Preparing for the Sacrament does not mean 5 minutes before, in fact, it means all week we should be preparing our minds and our hearts. This was a powerful lesson for me to learn and imply into my life, because I noticed myself more often thinking of the Savior and becoming like Him throughout the week! I started looking forward to coming to sacrament meeting. Preparing for the sacrament will bring you closer to the Savior. I know this because I have tried it in my own life. 
Elder Robert D. Hales states that:

“For the sacrament to be a spiritually cleansing experience each week, we need to prepare ourselves before coming to sacrament meeting. We do this by deliberately leaving behind our daily work and recreation and letting go of worldly thoughts and concerns.  As we do, we make room in our minds and hearts for the Holy Ghost. Then we are prepared to ponder on the Atonement. More than just thinking about the facts of the Savior’s suffering and death, our pondering helps us to recognize that through the Savior’s sacrifice, we have the hope, opportunity, and strength to make real, heartfelt changes in our lives.”

  I think this is what Elder Clarke meant when he said that we can literally transform our lives. If we come prepared with broken hearts and contrite spirits, we can make these significant changes in our lives and the Lord will give us the strength to do so. 

“As we HUMBLY come to sacrament meeting, we can be blessed to feel impressions for solutions to our daily problems. We must come prepared, be willing to listen, and not be distracted.”
Humility is important because it shows the Savior that we recognize our own nothingness and his ability to heal us. Arriving early to sacrament meeting also shows Him just how important the sacrament is in our lives. This was hard for me to wake up earlier but as I have tried to implement this into my life, I have noticed there is a more peaceful Spirit about the sacrament ordinance when I arrive early compared to when I rush in late and distressed while finishing my breakfast. 
Dallin H. Oaks states that singing the sacrament hymns is vital to the sacramental ordinance. These hymns bring the Spirit to the meeting and show our reverence toward it. One of my favorite sacrament hymns as of late is “As Now We Take The Sacrament.” Verse 2 is so powerful:

“As now our minds review the past, we know we must repent; The way to Thee is righteousness, the way thy life was spent. Forgiveness is a gift from Thee we seek with pure intent, with hands now pledged to do thy work, we take the sacrament.”

I love the way this one verse can help us kind of walk through the sacrament. As we review the past week, we realize we have made a lot of mistakes and need to repent. The way we get back to you is by living righteously, so we seek your forgiveness with pure hearts and we are re-committing our lives to you.
In a talk called “The Sacrament—a Renewal for the Soul” by Cheryl A. Esplin, she says that it is important to listen to the sacrament prayers. As I began to listen to the prayers more carefully, I wondered how I could more fully “take upon me the name of Christ.” Pretty soon I will be literally taking His name upon me as I become a full time missionary. President Henry B. Eyring taught us, 
“That means we must see ourselves as His. We will put Him first in our lives. We will 
want what He wants rather than what we want or what the world teaches us to want.”

I think “always remembering Him” can also be included in this, that he will be a part of every decision, every thought.  
I had an institute teacher who gave me such a powerful visual of the sacrament that has stuck with me ever since. The priesthood holders who bless and pass the sacrament represent the Savior. Sister Esplin states that 

“As a priesthood holder extends his arm to offer us the sacred emblems, it is as if the Savior Himself were extending His arm of mercy, inviting each one of us to partake of the precious gifts of love made available through his Atoning sacrifice—gifts of repentance, forgiveness, comfort, and hope.”

It is so easy to get casual with the sacrament ordinance every single week, but I realized that if I remembered this, that these priesthood holders represent the Savior, I found it easier to have a more cherished spiritual and healing experience with the sacrament and the power of the Atonement. 
Then my teacher described that as we ate the bread and drank the water, it was like we were putting all of our troubles and sins and cares into the sacrament tray. Then the priesthood holder, or the Savior, takes this tray full of trials and lays them on the altar of sacrifice and they are covered by a perfectly white cloth, cleansing us. How beautiful is that, that we can lay all of our sadness and troubles upon the Savior and he will wash them away. This is the power of the Atonement. This is the beauty of the sacrament. 
Soon after I viewed the Sacrament like this, it took on a whole new meaning for me. It truly strengthened my relationship with the Savior. I could come broken and put all my trials and shortcomings and mistakes and worries into His Hands and in return receive peace and feel of his unconditional love for me. The Savior’s hands are outstretched to each and every one of us, no matter what. He can heal us. He WANTS to heal us!! I have felt this redeeming love and redeeming power. 
Elder James J. Hamula in a talk called “The Sacrament and the Atonement,” described that the disciples continued to imply the sacrament into their lives even after the Savior had left. He says,
“Surely they did so not only to remember their departed Lord but also to express gratitude for and faith in His marvelous redemption of them.”

Faith is an important aspect of the sacrament. Faith is required of us. We must have faith that he can heal us, faith that we can be clean again.
I would like to end with this powerful witness. Our beloved Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson tells the story of how, as a 12-year-old deacon, he was asked by the bishop to take the sacrament to a sick brother who longed for this blessing. “His gratitude overwhelmed me,” President Monson said. “The Spirit of the Lord came over me. I stood on sacred ground.” I hope I can come to appreciate and love the sacrament as much as this sweet man did.

Through study, fast, prayer, and practice, I have come to love and appreciate the sacred ordinance of the sacrament. I am so humbled and grateful that we have the opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament and in return, having the precious promise of the Spirit of God present in our lives. Our Father in Heaven and his Son, Jesus Christ live, and love each and every one of us. We have a Savior who suffered and died for us, that we may repent and live with him again, with our families. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, I have a testimony of its power and the Spirit it brings into my life. I am so grateful for my family, I would not be here without their love and support. I am so lucky to be able to live with them forever. We have a living prophet who is the literal mouthpiece for our Heavenly Father and he is called of God. Joseph Smith was a prophet and because of him, we have the restored Gospel in our lives, and I have the blessed and sacred opportunity to share it with the people of California. I say these things humbly in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. 


Hannah Williams, Sydney Tanner, Hannah Pointer,  Riley Warren 
Keven Garces 
Marissa & Kelly Martin

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