I recently taught a lesson for Sunday School on Mosiah 18. We spent a lot of time discussing both the covenant of baptism and the structure and practices of the Church that Alma organized. One thing that really struck me as I reread these chapters and as I listened to Elder Bednar’s phenomenal talk about the role of sacred ordinances is how important the ritual act of covenant making is to the Church of Christ.
It wasn’t enough for Alma’s people to simply have a heartfelt conversion to Jesus Christ.And it wasn’t even enough for them to privately be baptized in obedience to Christ’s commands. Instead, they were asked to publicly be baptized “as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him.” The act of baptism does not just make us believers, but members of he “fold of God” and “his people.”
And ordinances are also essential to the receiving and maintaining a remission of our sins and the presence of the Holy Ghost. As Elder Bednar explained, ordinances “are far more than rituals or symbolic performances.” Instead, “they constitute authorized channels through which the blessings and powers of heaven can flow into our individual lives” Baptism allows for an “initial cleansing from sin. Ongoing participation in ordinances allows for “the possibility of an ongoing cleansing of our soul from sin.”
I am particularly grateful for the weakly ordinance of the sacrament and the opportunity to renew my covenants before God and before the community of believers. It is “a holy and repeated invitation to repent sincerely and to be renewed spiritually.” Each ordinance is an “element in an interrelated and additive pattern of redemptive progress” which “elevates and enlarges our spiritual purpose, desire, and performance.”
Without this weekly chance to renew my covenants and receive a remission of sins I would be lost. Even with it, it is easy to get discouraged at times. But the weekly ritual sets my eyes heavenward and helps me to remember again what I felt at the time of baptism.