All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ


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A White Covering

This is a continuation of my series of posts discussing the ordinance of the sacrament within the LDS faith. The first post, Remembering Him, is here.

Image © 2015, Intellectual Reserve, Inc

Image © 2015, Intellectual Reserve, Inc

In my last post, Our Modern Altars, I talked about the table upon which the bread and water of the sacrament is placed. A table which serves as a modern altar for us. Today I’m going to discuss the cloth covering the same bread and water.

I started preparing this post thinking that one would be enough to talk about the significance and symbolism of the sacrament cloth, but it has developed so much I’ll need to take two. So this is part 1.

Indeed, there is so much to ponder when considering the sacrament cloth it’s difficult to know where to start. So perhaps it’s best to start with the Church handbook.

“Sacrament tablecloths should be white, nontransparent, clean, and pressed.” (Handbook 2, Administering the Church, 20.4.2)

It would be easy to read this sentence and think that only the colour of the cloth is symbolic, white being the symbolic colour of purity; the other requirements being primarily signs of respect. And while having a clean and pressed cloth certainly does show respect, there is more to it than that. Continue reading


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Our Modern Altars

Image © Copyright, Intellectual Reserve Incorporated

I’ve written about the Sacrament on a couple of occasions before. The last time more than 18 months ago, and in it I promised my next posts would be looking at this wonderful ordinance in more detail. Ahem… well, a lot has happened during those 18 months. Sorry for the delay.

And as I sat in my Church meetings today and listened once again to the words of the Sacrament, I felt I needed to continue on from that post so long ago.

For us in the LDS faith, the Sacrament consists of the communal sharing of broken bread and cups of water, and is directly derived from the Last Supper. In other faiths it may be called the Eucharist or Communion. They all share similarities. Thus, although I am focussing my discussion on the LDS sacramental rites, many aspects may hold meaning for other faiths too.

The New Testament account of the Lord’s Last Supper in the Gospel of Matthew is short:

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

We’ll look more closely at these words in a later post. But for the moment it is worth reminding ourselves that this was the last act Jesus took with his chosen Disciples before He went to Gethsemane. It was the culmination of His teachings to them. Continue reading


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Depression and Church service.

© Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Christ taught the importance of both faith and works

© Copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Christ taught the importance of both faith and works

I was very blessed to have been born into a Christian family. My parents never wavered in their testimonies or Church attendance, and I grew up learning from them the importance of it.

I’m not sure at what point I began to understand the difference between the Church and the gospel – the earthly (though divinely mandate and approved) organisation through which gospel ordinances are performed in our day, versus the eternal principles by which our future happiness is governed.

At some point I did, though. And at about the same time, I also began to notice other principles we often conflate within the Church. Believing versus faith. Doing versus becoming. Reading  – or even studying – versus feasting.

Whichever set of words you look at, they’re both necessary: essential even. But our ultimate aim is always the second. We strengthen our belief until it grows into faith. We study the scriptures until we come to a point where we love them: our soul “hungers”, as Enos put it, and we desire to feast (see Enos 1:4). We do the things the Lord commands until we become a people who would naturally choose those things anyway – even without commandments, and without thinking about it.

It wasn’t until my darkest time of despair, however, that I realised my understanding of these things was intellectual only, a mere grasp of the theory. Continue reading


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Remembering Him

Original photo 'Bread and Wine', copyright ingridhs

Original photo ‘Bread and Wine’, copyright ingridhs

On His final mortal night with His specially chosen disciples, Jesus shared a Passover meal; introducing a new rite with bread and wine. The event itself has become known as the Last Supper. The new ordinance Christ introduced that night continues in most Christian churches today, and is usually called Communion, or the Eucharist. Within the LDS tradition, it is called the Sacrament.

A few months ago I posted a short poem about the Sacrament, but I’d like to spend a little more time sharing more of my thoughts and feelings on this beautiful ordinance, looking more broadly at the ordinance’s introduction before specifically looking at some of the symbolism used. I will specifically be looking at the LDS ‘version’ of the Sacrament, but I think many of the principles could have application in other faiths, too. If you’re not LDS and have questions about any differences, please feel free to send me a message or add a comment and I’ll be happy to reply.

The New Testament account of the introduction of the Sacrament shows us how the Saviour adapted it from the Passover meal, linking so beautifully the old law with the new. Jesus didn’t destroy the Law of Moses when He came. Rather, He brought with Him new light; new understanding; more blessings. It was a transition from one true gospel to a higher version of the same. His teachings of the Sacrament to His disciples were amongst the last He gave. It’s worth thinking about that. He had spent three years ministering, teaching and healing. Over that time He had carefully expanded the spiritual horizons of his chosen Apostles; giving them line upon line. And at the end of that time, when the Atonement itself lay immediately before Him and He would soon depart mortality, He taught them of the Sacrament. Continue reading


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Yearning for Heaven

armsOver the years, I’ve learned loads of things at Church. In my adult years, though – like many life-long members of the LDS Church I’m sure – very little has come from the actual words spoken in meetings and lessons. Because those who speak to, or teach us, in Church have to cater for a wide range of gospel understanding, our lessons and sermons tend to be fairly basic in content; with lessons getting recycled every four years.

I still enjoy them, though, for a couple of reasons. First, on odd occasions I’m able to make a contribution to a topic which I hope others find helpful (certainly others make contributions which I find helpful). Second – and relevant for this post – the things I learn are most often from words that are not audible. They are from the words and feelings that come directly into my mind.

That was the case today. The sermons in our main worship meeting were on the subject of prayer and while what the speakers had to say was good, there was something else I learned on the subject; something they didn’t talk about. A phrase came directly to my mind which cause me to ponder quite deeply; to examine myself and my approach to prayer. It is something which will change the way I approach my Heavenly Father when I kneel before him in my solitude. It affects the power of my prayers. Continue reading


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The Holy Ghost and Depression

Sunlight on green fieldsThis post is a little more rambling than usual, so I apologise for that. Hopefully I’ll still be able to make the point I want to.

I often think that when we get to the next life and see things as they really are; when the scales of our mortal blindness fall from our eyes, that we will be surprised with both how much simpler things were than we thought, as well as how much more complex. If that sounds contradictory, let me explain.

We spend our lives running to and fro. We have gadgets that improve our efficiency, but the result is we feel pressure to get ever more done. Our children must be in after-school clubs. We must be available for our employers 24/7. Work is increasingly demanding, while so are the requirements to fit society’s standards of good parenting. And then we add church responsibilities, social activities, and so on, and so on. We spend so much time and effort on these things when our main purpose in life is really the much simpler “Come, follow me.” Not easy, for sure, but simple. I’m sure that when I kneel at a future day before my Saviour and look back at my mortal journey I will say some variation of “Oops”, as I recognise how much time and stress I wasted on things that really didn’t matter. Continue reading


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We Are All the Lost Sheep

We are theThankfully the days of Teletubbies are long behind us.  There was a time when I would wonder whether Tinky Winky or Po was my favourite; when I would hum the theme tune.  Somehow, that sort of insanity is the only way to remain sane through those years (although some would argue I didn’t stay sane – if I ever was to start with…).

Many of the escapades of the four coloured friends are now (thankfully) long forgotten; buried deep within whatever part of my brain that seeks to hide such things.  But there is one that I have always remembered.  It is where Little Bo Beep comes along, singing with a high-pitched male falsetto searching for her lost charges.  Then materialising from clouds are her wandering flock, singing in their deep bass tones, “We are the sheep”.

It was… surreal; and is perhaps the only time watching children’s television where I wondered whether the producers had hired Monty Python to work as consultants.  For some strange reason, our family was reminded of this scene in the last week.  Sheep seem to have been on my mind lately…. Continue reading


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Standing Above the Mists

Tree through the morning mists of County Durham

Tree through the morning mists of County Durham

After an unusually warm July, August was cooler than usual this year, and as we have begun September, already the morning fog has begun. It’s usually not until October that the daily fog arrives, but it’s been with us for a week or so now.

As I was driving to work early last week, I crested a hill on a nearby country road and saw in the distance a large bank of fog. Its appearance was that of a sinister wall of confusion attempting to blanket the countryside – and at the very edge of the fog was a solitary tree, rising through the mist, seemingly resisting its advance.  There were other trees on the hillside – but just the one was large enough to rise above the encroaching obscurity.

I have pondered on that tree a lot since that morning.   Continue reading


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The Challenge to Stay Humble

Church of St Lawrence (2)

Church of St Lawrence, Warkworth, Northumberland

Although there are still a few weeks until the season of autumn officially arrives, with the children going back to school this week, in practice summer is now drawing to its close. And as I think back over the summer months, and our daytrips out, there is one in particular that comes to mind.

For our wedding anniversary, my wife and I spent the day wandering a few villages and towns of Northumberland, an hour or two from home. We finished in the small town of Warkworth, just a few miles from the coast, where we went to the old castle up on the hill for an evening performance of Much Ado About Nothing.

We arrived in Warkworth early and strolled through the town and along the river, spending a little time in the Church of St Lawrence. It is a beautiful small church, and had a lovely feeling in it. Parts of the current building have been there for close to 1,000 years, with evidence of an earlier structure several hundred years before that.

As we walked through its old interior I couldn’t help but think of the many thousands, or even tens of thousands, of people who have worshipped in this building over a millennium. I could see no evidence of pretention: there was some beautiful stained glass showing scenes of the Saviour’s life, but otherwise everything was simple, and gave a sense that those who had come here had done so because of nothing more than their faith. It is a relatively small building, and I couldn’t help but feel that a thousand years of humble and genuine worship for our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ had sanctified the place, making the stones holy. Continue reading


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Of Forest Walks and the Doctrine of Christ

The physical, emotional and spiritual copyI was asked to give a talk (sermon) in my local church today, and I’ve copied the text below.  Some of the themes could be further developed, and I probably will do in future posts.  I begin with a parable that in some ways reminds me of the famous lines from Alice in Wonderland:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

 

Only in this case, it really does matter which way we go…. Continue reading