My sister-in-law Cheryl Harward Wilcox came to value the sacrament much more as she helped care for her mother, Melva, until she passed away at age 92. Melva was in the hospital in Payson, Utah, when it was decided that there was nothing more that could be done except to keep her as comfortable as possible until she passed on. As preparations were being made to transport her back to her home, two brethren from a local ward came into the room and asked Cheryl if her mother would like the sacrament. At first, Cheryl told them, “No, thank you.” Her mom could hardly swallow. Then Cheryl said, “On second thought, let me ask her.” Cheryl leaned close to her mother’s ear and said, “There are two priesthood holders here. Would you like to try to take the sacrament?”
In a faint but clear voice, Melva answered, “Yes.”
Cheryl picked up a piece of bread from the tray, broke off the tiniest crumb, and gently placed it in her mother’s mouth. Melva worked on it for a bit, and Cheryl quietly apologized to the men that it was taking a while. They assured her it was okay. Next Cheryl took a small plastic cup of water and held it to her mother’s lips. Melva took only a small sip, and Cheryl was surprised at how well she swallowed it. Cheryl thanked the brethren, and they left for the next room. Melva died peacefully about an hour later.
In the days that followed, Cheryl realized what a sacred moment she had been allowed to share with her mother. It was her last supper. The final thing Melva did in this life was to partake of the sacrament. The final word she spoke was, “Yes.” She said yes to receiving the sacrament, yes to offering her sacrifice of “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20), yes to taking upon herself the name of Jesus Christ and promising to always remember Him, yes to receiving His spirit. The last things that passed through her lips were the sacrament bread and water.
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As Cheryl later reflected on this special moment, she said, “How sweet her last supper must have tasted to her. Although too weak to move or speak, how alive in Christ her spirit must have felt! How grateful she must have been for His enabling power that carried her through those final moments of her mortal journey and for His promise of exaltation ahead.”
Each week as we partake of the sacrament, let us be a little more mindful of what we are doing.
Let us do it “in remembrance of his grace” (Hymns, no. 176). Then the bread and water can be “sweet above all that is sweet” for us (Alma 32:42), just as it must have been for Melva.
“Have you been changed by grace?” In Changed through His Grace, Brad Wilcox explores this life-altering question in depth. Christians throughout the centuries have used grace to describe God’s favor, goodwill, and love. However, grace is more than a description of God’s attributes. It is the help, power, and strength He offers as we choose to engage with Him in striving to attain those attributes. Grace is different from the Atonement. It is not Christ’s suffering, death, and Resurrection. Rather, grace is the power that flows from those sacred moments. Grace is not a priesthood ordinance, but essential ordinances invite greater and greater endowments of grace into our lives. Grace is a divine gift, but like any gift, it must be received.
In this book, Brother Wilcox uses real-life stories and personal experiences to demonstrate how we can choose to receive Christ’s grace more fully. In addition to using Paul’s teachings in the Bible, Brother Wilcox draws from the scriptures of the Restoration, the teachings of modern prophets, and sacred hymns to explain complex doctrines in simple and memorable ways. This allows us to understand how a covenant relationship with God and Christ can help us and those we love escape the bondage of addictions. he teaches how through the Holy Ghost—the messenger of grace—God can strengthen and save but also transform us.
This book is filled with hope. God’s help is not a prize for the righteous. It is the source of righteousness. His grace is not a reward for the worth. It is the source of worthiness. It is not waiting for us once we change. It is the power we need throughout the entire perfecting process.