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Not long ago there was a lot of buzz about people bidding for a lunch date with Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire media mogul. The unexpected winner was Media Matters. They reportedly paid $86,000 for a few minutes of face time with Murdoch.
Millions of dollars are raised for various causes every year through similar celebrity auctions. It is amazing what people will pay for a little one-on-one with someone important. How does a person use the minutes with Murdoch, Jon Bon Jovi or George Clooney? How does anyone make a thousand-dollar-a-minute meeting profitable? Would you plan topics to discuss ahead of time to get the most out of your time together? Would you want to soak up every moment in their presence?
Most of us will never have lunch with such a celebrity. Yet, every week each of us is invited to an encounter with the most important person in our universe. Every week Jesus travels from His Home on High to be with us during the sacrament. Every week He comes to haul off our sins and burdens. Every week He offers to heal us with His sacrifice. He offers to comfort, counsel, and empower us.
The challenging question for every Latter-day Saint is: What will we do with this opportunity to spend priceless time with the Savior of Mankind?
How do we use that precious time? Do our eyes skip from pew to podium speculating about why Brother So-and-so is not in attendance or whether the speakers will be interesting enough to hold our attention? Do our minds wander to the doings and worries of the week? Do we tap our toes waiting for the meeting to get going?
Many times I have ended the sacred sacrament time realizing that I ignored my heavenly companion. Jesus came to be with me and my mind wandered through trivia. The Man who could change and redeem my soul was sitting by my side and I frittered away the precious minutes.
Making the Time Count
I have resolved to do better. So every week before sacrament meeting-usually Saturday evening-I pull out my small inspiration journal-the small plates of Wally. I dedicate a new page to outlining the Brother-of-Jared approach to God (Ether 3). I write:
1. Thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens.
2. I am fallen; because of the fall my nature has become evil continually.
3. Turn away Thy wrath; have mercy on me.
4. Grant according to my righteous desires.
As I write and reflect upon the words of that approach to heaven, sometimes added words and ideas come to me. I write them down. I try to feel the words in my soul. This is the prayer that took the brother of Jared from a heavenly scolding to an unparalleled embrace with Jehovah. It efficiently defines my relationship with God and my dilemma: He is amazing. I am fallen. I desperately need His merciful help. I can make specific requests if my heart is pure.
Sometimes I forget to do my homework until late Saturday eve. Nevertheless I write the words on a separate page. I try to be still and await His counsel.
On Sunday, as the sacrament time arrives, I take out my inspiration journal. I have it ready as we sing a sacred hymn. Often, as I sing the words of the Sacrament hymn, my singing is blocked by a feeling of gratitude that fills my heart with joy and my eyes with tears.
I open to the new prayer page. I also pull out my printed copy of the sacrament prayers that is covered with ideas and comments. I follow closely when the prayer is pronounced by a priest. I rejoice when some small error causes it to be repeated. As each prayer is completed, I try to imagine myself entering the presence of the Savior. I have tried to imagine us seated in the bishop’s office-but I am not able to sit; my soul requires that I kneel at His feet. I track through the words I have written and add any new counsel delivered to my soul. I thank Him for His incomprehensible love and grace. I ask Him what He would have me do. I take notes.
Cherishing Our Weekly Opportunity
The sacrament is a joyous time. It changes the entire week. I cannot comprehend the blessing of 15 minutes every week with the Lord Jesus Christ. My sense is that, because He is infinite and eternal, He can treat each of us as if we were His only concern. To Him, each of us is everything.
There is an ultimate irony in the meeting with Jesus. Rather than us paying unearthly sums for the blessing of spending time with Him, He paid an infinite and eternal price so that we might come to His feast. Who can comprehend such goodness? Who can express adequate gratitude?
We are, of all people, most blessed. May we cherish our weekly opportunity to be sanctified and instructed by the God who saves us.
Thanks to Barbara Keil for her contributions to this article.
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You may be interested in Brother Goddard’s brand new book, Bringing Up Our Children in Light and Truth or one of his newly revised books: The Soft-Spoken Parent: 55 Strategies for Preventing Contention with Your Children and Modern Myths and Latter-day Truths. You might also enjoy his popular Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage. All are available at online booksellers.