BY THE REV. CORY L. KEMP |
Living a servant life as a Christian involves many things, including regular worship. As part of our worship services we enjoy the celebrations of Baptism and Holy Communion, the sacraments of our faith.
While we have participated in these sacraments many times over the years, what exactly is a sacrament and how does it support our life of faith and service?
Sacraments are simply religious ceremonies regarded as imparting divine grace. The Christian Bible speaks of sacraments, very similarly, as visible signs of an inward grace, which are familiar words to me from how I was taught by ministers, Sunday school teachers and wise people in my life. The words connected the physical actions I witnessed people taking with the reason why, the Sacred Mystery of God’s actions through the life of Jesus Christ.
What I also noticed, with both Baptism and Communion, is that we did them the same way every time, always in the same order. Our Moravian liturgies provide that first, spacious gesture of invitation to step into the Holiness that surrounds us. Each prayer, each hymn, each exchange between worship leader and congregation, brings us together to experience a path of renewal, hope and deeper knowing of the God we serve.
In both Baptism and Communion we also go inward in another way, to connect with our individual way of being with God. We practice our sacramental rituals with each other and on our own.
In Baptism, you and I were baptized, received into the fellowship of a congregation and an historical faith; and now, you and I are the ones welcoming new souls to know, love and serve God too. In Communion, our Moravian practice is to receive the elements individually from the server, then partake of them together.
I’ve always found it interesting that the Roman Catholic tradition has defined seven sacraments. Catholics sacramental practices include: Baptism; Eucharist; Confirmation; Reconciliation; Anointing of the sick; Marriage; Holy orders. Each of these sacraments represent important times in human life, times when we crave God the most, know that we absolutely need God to help us and are willing to exercise the power of that sacred covenant between us and the One who called us into being.
Sacraments serve to support us in remembering that we have chosen a sacred path, and that we are not alone. We have each other, and we have every person who has gone before us on this path. Sacraments support us individually in recalling the bigness of God’s presence and wisdom, all on which you and I can rely as much as we choose. There is deep, lasting power in these worship moments we call sacraments.
As all of human life is sacred, a gift from God, I believe there is a lot of room to consider the ways we live as being outward signs of God’s grace moving in, through and among us. What becomes sacramental when consciously understood and offered as a gift back to God? What is sacred to you? What rituals do you perform that link you to God’s presence?
About the Author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.
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