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Sacraments – A Reflection

March 3, 2020
Communion Table on World Communion Sunday September 30, 2017

Depending upon which church you belong two, there are Sacraments or Ordinances. Some have two Sacraments or Ordinances and others have seven Sacraments. Back in the days of the Reformation (1600’s in Europe) battle lines were drawn in the Protestant and Catholic fight over the number of Sacraments. These battles were sometimes more than just words. Sometimes swords were drawn and people were killed. Surely God must have wept to see the people fight like this over something that is supposed to be holy and sacred.

Still today there are times that words are exchanged over differences in the understanding of Sacraments. In the Chaplain Service we managed these differences under the banner of mutual respect and teamwork. If one Chaplain could not serve communion or baptize an infant, another member of the Chaplain team would step in and fill the need. There wasn’t any room for shaming anyone, we just did God’s work to the best of our abilities. At least that was my experience as a Chaplain and as a senior leader.

Today it seems like there is, for some, a lack of attention to the meaning of the Sacraments. Is Communion something you do on Sunday? Is it a ritual where you just go through the motions? Is it only on Maundy Thursday when the first Lord’s Supper is remembered that we may think about the Sacrament instead of going through the motions. This can happen among the clergy as well as among the parishioners.

Yet the Sacraments are truly holy moments when you can encounter the Divine. Many times as I have served Communion the very act and the words I say bring tears to my eyes. I truly feel God’s presence with us.

Thomas Merton had this to say about the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession): I ask that everywhere this Sacrament may be administered and received in truth and justice and prudence and mercy and sorrow, and that priests and penitents may better know what they are doing and that they be filled with a great love and reverence for what they do. (Volume II of his journals, March 18 and 21, 1950).

I believe that he would also say the same about the rest of the Sacraments for either Roman Catholics or Protestants. The next time you come to the table remember that Justice, Love, and Mercy saturate the sacred moment. I also promise as a Pastor to do the same as I serve the Congregation and speak the words of the Communion Order. If we do this, perhaps we will leave the sanctuary transformed, ready to be instruments of God’s Love, Justice, Mercy, and Peace.

  1. Thank you.

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