The Sacrament: Life or Death

by D. J. Williams

This story I am about to relate was experienced while I was possessed of my full conscious faculties and can not very well be termed visionary or subconscious musings. I cannot say that it was a kaleidoscopic projection, a mental aberration, an hallucination, or a physio-mental revelation; it was simply an experience.

I awoke and listened to the chimes striking on the clock downstairs, followed by the strokes of two, so that I know it was two o'clock in the morning. Immediately it seemed to me that I was transported to the church on Sewall Street in Somerville, Massachusetts, and I sat on the platform with a number of the brethren.

It was a sacrament meeting, and the auditorium of the church was filled; every seat was taken, and there were many standing. So it was apparently a greater gathering than the Boston Branch alone. I seemed to know everybody, and it appeared that everybody was in their accustomed place.

The preliminaries of the meeting were apparently over, for the presiding officer, (whoever he was, I cannot say, although I seemed to know full well) arose, and he made the shortest speech I have ever heard at the beginning of a sacrament service. Said he, pointing to the sacrament, "You who partake of this bread and wine worthily, will receive life. You who partake of this bread and wine unworthily, will receive death. You have your agency; choose for yourselves."

As he finished this speech and the elders arose to remove the covering from the sacrament, like the click of the dial on the radio I seemed to step out of my body and remove from it about two yards to the left. I could not see myself there but I knew that my conscious ego, spirit, or intelligence stood there outside and independent of my body; I could see my body still sitting on the chair.

As the covering was lifted from the sacrament, the walls of the building disappeared—and all other material obstruction to my vision—and I could see where the earth and sky met in all directions. Viewing this phenomenon, I raised my eyes and looked into the dome of the heavens. I saw a white cloud whose alabaster whiteness defies description. I have not the language to define it, so I will not try. This cloud seemed to be propelled in evolving gyrations down towards the earth, and it came down quite near to where the back right-hand corner of the church should be, but at this time was absent.

The church members knelt while the blessing was asked on the bread. (The same scene prevailed on the blessing of the wine, so we will describe one and it will do for both.) As soon as the "Amen" was pronounced, scintillations of light in beams or pencils shot out from this white cloud and rested on each piece of bread. As the elder passed the bread to the priest, the light shifted from the bread and rested on the head of the communicant, and when the priest served the elder the same phenomenon prevailed, and likewise throughout the whole congregation. As the light lifted to the head of the served, his or her countenance lighted up and a look of contentment settled over the features.

But there was a peculiar difference in the pencils of light as the people partook of the emblems: some remained constant and shifted to the head of the recipient; while others reduced in size, still centered on the head of the individual; other rays, as the member partook, withdrew and stood anywhere from a few inches to two feet away from the head of the communicant; and some rays, just as soon as the individual touched the bread, shot back or withdrew to within a few feet of the cloud. In such instances there was no lighting up of the countenance with joy, or expression of contentment; but in its place was sadness or no change whatsoever.

I noticed one particularly bright beam of light, outshining all the others in brilliance, that directed its shaft to the right forward section of seats. I was particularly anxious to see who this ray shone on. I apparently maneuvered to a position where I could behold the person, and I was somewhat astonished to see that it was a young child. I heard this voice: "Except you all become as little children, you can in no wise enter into the Kingdom of God."

(Peculiar as it may seem, I knew everybody; and yet when I wanted to single out a particular incident, I was not able to distinguish the identity of anyone.)

The scene changed in a moment. The meeting was seemingly over, and the people were grouped in bunches, as is our custom, throughout the building. Four of these groups were particularly presented to my attentions the right-hand back corner of the church a group was laughing and telling jokes and displaying a careless, unconcerned condition; the voice said, "The death and suffering of Jesus Christ lies lightly on their conscience." And as I looked at the cloud, all the pencils of light had withdrawn from them.

In the right front section of the church was another group. One with a solemn face was telling a tale and shaking a finger, to which those who listened were nodding their heads in approval. And the voice said, "Unjust criticism and false suggestions make martyrs of the true and faithful." And as I looked at the cloud, all the pencils of light had withdrawn from them.

In the left front section was another group who were reviewing the acts of the sacrament procedure and talking in a Godly kind of fellowship. The voice said: "Peace and tranquillity are the heritage of the faithful." I looked at the cloud, and the scintillations of light were focused on the group in a perfect halo which surrounded the group, and their countenances were lit up with joy and intelligence.

Again the scene changed, and I saw the people who had just partaken of the sacrament of life go out from the building and mix with the world. The rays of light seemed to follow them, but only a few remained for any length of time. As the saints mixed with the people of the world, they slowly merged into the crowd and were lost to the peculiar designation that marked them as different.

As I looked, some of those very people who had partaken of the body and blood of Christ and had thereby promised to "always remember Him, and keep His commandments" were partaking of the corrupt things of the world; they were entering into every exercise and partaking of every vice that worldly ingenuity could devise. And I heard this voice: "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

But they did not come. Instead I saw them in questionable company, idling their time, blackmailing, lying, blaspheming, carousing, committing immoral acts and murder. I looked for the cloud. It had receded far, far up into the azure dome and had diminished to a mere speck in the sky. Still the scintillations denoted it the same white cloud, but its glory had withdrawn from the people.

Again the scene changed, and I found myself standing in the same place in the church. I could see my body, my physical clay, sitting in the chair as it had been in the beginning of the meeting. The walls had again come into place, and the priests were just coming down the aisle with the trays of empty wine glasses.

Again the president of the meeting arose and made this brief statement: "You who have partaken of this bread and wine worthily, have obtained life. You who have partaken of this bread and wine unworthily, have entered into death. You are your own judges, whether justified or condemned. You have used your agency; the consequences are yours."

I seemed to take two steps and entered into my body again. As I did so, I heard chimes of the clock downstairs. I listened and heard it strike four. For two hours I had been wrapped in this experience, and it seemed to be only a few minutes in duration.

I wonder if we sense that life and light come through the sacrament and that very few of the Church are able to hold the light and life for any great length of time after partaking? I wonder if we barter our chances of communion with God by mingling in things that the Spirit of God can not accompany us in?

Do we really appreciate the privilege and benefits of the sacrament, or are we like the first group, not sanctified any more by partaking than if we never partook; not even sensing the death and suffering of Christ for our salvation: careless and indifferent, neither good nor bad, but unusable?

Or are we like the second group: partake of the bread and wine - and it is only bread and wine to such, for it is not sacrament; it is custom. Immediately afterwards the tongue of scandal and the sting of hypocrisy devour and destroy the character of some innocent, unprotected member.

Or are we like the third group: self-centered, self-righteous, with anger if crossed, hatred if corrected; not touched by the spirit of the sacrament; murder in the heart through malice and an unrighteous spirit.

Or are we like the fourth group: made preparation by fasting and prayer, forgave all men as they hoped to be forgiven, tranquil to all people, thinking no evil of any member, having a soothing spirit by reason of grace reachieved; a peacemaker, and a true representative of the gospel of Christ, Who said, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one for another."

Which group is our choice? In which do we belong?


(Apparently the description of one group was not recorded by Brother Williams, or it was lost in retyping. But the meaning is still conveyed in the final paragraphs. -The Editors.)