In Mormonism, the Sacrament is the Lord's Supper, in which participants eat bread and drink wine (or water, in the case of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the late 1800s). It is essentially the same as the Eucharist, Communion in other Christian denominations. Normally in Mormon congregations, the Sacrament is provided every Sunday as part of the Sacrament meeting.
In the Community of Christ, the word "sacrament" is also used in the more common, generic sense used by most of Christianity, meaning a rite or "ordinance".
The Sacrament ceremony
Method of administering the Sacrament to the congregation
In Mormon Sacrament meetings, the Sacrament is passed to members of the congregation after being blessed by a priest or other member of the Priesthood. A special prayer is given on the bread, after which the bread is passed to the congregation, usually by deacons. After the bread is passed, another special prayer is given on the wine, which is then passed to the congregation.
The use of wine as a symbol of the blood of Christ
As originally practiced by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. and other early Mormons, the Sacrament included the use of fermented wine. Most Mormon sects continue to use wine or grape juice. For example, the Community of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) sect uses unfermented grape juice. The use of unfermented grape juice arises from an interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants, Section 26:1 (Community of Christ edition), although it is clear that Mormons used fermented wine after that section was recorded.
The LDS Church owned and operated vineyards and wineries in Utah and California (including Napa Valley) during the 1800s to produce wine for this purpose.
However, in the late 1800s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by far the largest Mormon church organization, began to substitute water instead of wine. This practice was officially adopted Church-wide in 1912. Although wine is still considered an emblem of the blood of Christ, most members of the Church do not consider the substitution of water to be significant, referring to a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants: "[I]t mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory." (D&C 27:2-4). Water has also been used as a symbol of Christ and his mission at various times, including Jesus' 'living water' sermon.
Many Mormons believe that one of the reasons the LDS Church began to use water rather than wine is to help Mormons avoid the "appearance of evil" by not purchasing wine, which is discouraged in the Word of Wisdom. Some Mormon critics say the change was made to save money, however, the sacramental emblems are often donated by members of local congregations.
Meaning of the Sacrament
To Mormons, the Sacrament is viewed as a renewal of the covenant made at baptism. According to the Sacrament prayers, a person eats and drinks in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus, and promises always to remember him and keep his commandments. In return the prayer promises that the participant will always have the Spirit to be with them.
The Sacrament is considered to be a weekly renewal of a Mormon's commitment to follow Jesus Christ, and a plea for forgiveness of sins.
Like most Protestants, and unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Mormons do not believe in transubstantiation. Mormons view the bread and wine (water) as merely symbolic of the body and blood of Christ.
Last updated: 05-22-2005 06:07:11
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