Sunday, May 27, 2018

Elder Dale G. Renlund on the sacredness of the sacrament

Elder Dale G. Renlund (born November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"I would like to share what we learned about the sacrament from members of the Church in Kigali, Rwanda. The background to the story is that in 1994 there was a horrific genocide in Rwanda. Between 600,000 and 900,000 people were killed in a matter of 60 to 90 days.
"Eventually, the Church established a branch in the capital city of Kigali. The branch was doing well, without full-time missionaries. In 2011, Ruth and I were serving in that Africa Southeast Area when we learned, sadly, that our registration as a church with the country of Rwanda was invalid, which meant that we were functioning illegally as a church. We also learned that our meetinghouse, a converted two-story home, was not appropriately zoned to hold church meetings. For these reasons, the Area Presidency, in consultation with our first contact in the Quorum of the Twelve, made the agonizing decision to close the branch. Our members were no longer able to meet for church meetings.
"Lawyers in Kigali, Johannesburg, and Salt Lake City began working fervently and feverishly and hopefully to resolve the problems. Nothing seemed to work. Brick walls were hit at every turn. All the while, the Saints kept asking when they could meet together again. Months went by without resolution or progress.
"After 9 to 10 months, Ruth and I decided to fly to Kigali to visit those Saints and try to buoy up their spirits. Before we did, I asked that the matter be placed on the temple prayer roll of the weekly meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.
"The Tuesday before our scheduled trip from Johannesburg to Kigali, we were notified that, in a surprising move, the government had granted the Church provisional registration in the city of Kigali. Then, on Thursday of the same week, in another surprising move, the Zoning Commission granted an exemption from the zoning ordinance. The Kigali Saints could once again meet in our building without violating the law.
"This was miraculous! Members were quickly notified that the branch would be meeting on Sunday. Ruth and I arrived on Friday and invited members to come to church. The members cleaned and prepared the building enthusiastically. When Sunday came, all the members—all of them—and many of their friends came to church. They arrived early, eager to be together again. As the sacrament was blessed and passed, we all experienced an extraordinary renewing, refreshing, and cleansing spirit.
"I remember, in the meeting, wondering why I did not feel this same spirit every week as I partook of the sacrament. I looked around at the Saints, and I realized that they had come hungering and thirsting for the sacrament. Their faith, diligence, and patience brought all of us blessings. I pledged to myself that whenever I again partook of the sacrament, I would remember this experience with the Kigali Saints. I committed that I too would hunger for the blessings of partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper."
- Dale G. Renlund, "Come Unto Christ," BYU-Idaho Devotional, 26 Sep 2017
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Frequency and repetition can lead to taking something for granted or approaching it with casualness. Elder Renlund suggests that we may be susceptible to this challenge with one of the more sacred things we participate in, the sacrament service. The wonderful, touching story of Church members in Rwanda who were denied that privilege should give us all pause to consider.

So what does it take to bring back "an extraordinary renewing, refreshing, and cleansing spirit" to the weekly action of partaking of the sacrament? Elder Renlund identifies the crucial difference: we must "come hungering and thirsting for the sacrament." When we truly understand the significance it represents for us, and when "faith, diligence, and patience" are present in our lives, then we will hunger for the blessings that the action can bring.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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