Sacraments: How Important Are They?

I had this question in the back of my mind since the spring of 2008. Can a person really be a Christian if they do not practice the sacraments? This journey started when I was writing a paper on the ministry of Catherine Booth, one of the founders of the Salvation Army. During my research, I discovered that The Salvation Army does not observe the sacraments. This led me to this question: “Can the church ignore the sacraments?” I’ll be the first one to admit, that I don’t have all the answers. But I do like the question and here are some of my thoughts.

Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said,” Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”

19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”

20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

If it was important enough for Jesus to tell us to do it, how can some Christians think it is not important for them to do it for their spiritual lives? Jesus also commanded us to baptize.


16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.
And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Again it was important enough for Christ to tell us to baptize people. When I have the chance, I have asked my professors who are teachers of theology in the Wesleyan church this question about the sacraments. The last time I was at FLAME, we discussed the Sacraments. We looked at why our church traditionally has only celebrated communion once a quarter. It was for practical reasons, not for spiritual. In the Wesleyan Church, only ordained or licensed pastors can serve communion. The church could only participate in communion when there was one officiating the service. Our denomination consisted of churches with “circuit-riding” preachers – like many of the American churches in the 1800’s. Preachers would travel to churches that were part of their circuit. It would take a preacher several weeks or a month or two before they would return to a church, so the requirement was that a church should participate in communion at least once a quarter when the pastor was officiating the service. I During the modern post-war era, almost all Wesleyan Churches are not part of a circuit – meaning that the pastor preaches and leads worship each week. During our last General Conference, a memorial passed that recommended that churches consider having communion monthly. So, why don’t we take communion more often? I have heard at least two answers on a regular basis. 1.) We don’t take it more often, because it will lose its significance. 2.) We don’t take communion more often because we don’t want to look “catholic.” I know of several denominations – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ at least and a few others that take communion every Sunday. Communion is something Jesus told us that we must do. We are told as often as we observe it to do it in remembrance of Him. Not observing communion just because we think we might look like another church is not a good reason for avoiding communion.

The second reason also deserves to be look at as well. I can understand the point of view that by having communion, it might lose the significance or might lose its specialness. I read a book recently that put it this way. Our bodies need sustenance. Just because we always eat doesn’t mean that eating loses its significance. Our bodies still need sustenance on a regular basis. Another thing to consider is that we worship God each week through singing, prayer, reading the scriptures, and listening to the Word of God being preached and taught, and we don’t relegate these things to a once a quarter status to keep them special. In fact, if the church that you or I attended stopped preaching every week or stopped singing every week, we would think something was wrong with our church. Yet, when we only observe communion once a quarter, we think that’s the way it is suppose to be. I would like to challenge pastors to think about that.

The sacraments are a Means of Grace — that is they are a special channel in which God works in our lives. We believe that by observing the sacraments – our lives can be changed. The sacraments give us a way of touching the past and help us bridge us to the future in heaven. We should value the sacraments for what they are and the part they play in the life of a Christian.

Running Update

  • We had another beautiful day for exercising today.  Lots of sun and temps in the mid-60.  The flowering trees are blossoming — I love spring.
  • I ran 5.2 miles in 1:06:24
  • That comes out to a 12:46 mile.
  • In the last 7 days, I have run 20.2 miles 🙂
  • Pam has started walking and is doing great!

Pressing On!

Running Update

  • When I woke up this morning, I didn’t think there would be any chance of running today.
  • It was warm enough, but the on and off heavy showers would have proved difficult.
  • By eleven o’clock all that changed and we have beautiful blue sky with big fluffy clouds, with a nice breeze.
  • Pam went walking, while I ran — 3.9 miles
  • That makes 18.2 miles since Tuesday 🙂
  • I ran those 3.9 miles today in 48:12
  • That is a 12:21 mile.
  • The weather for the rest of the week looks very good.
  • I am hoping to get up to 5.2 miles Wednesday, even if I run a little slower.
  • I would be great to have in 20 miles over the next seven days

Pressing On!

Sunday Night Thoughts

  • We continue to have some very nice weather.  It was a little cloudy this afternoon, but a very nice day.
  • The Holy Spirit really visited with us this morning.  Pastor Barry did a great job on the sermon.  Musically I struggled with the flow of the songs this morning, but the congregation and praise team did a great job.
  • This afternoon, I watched TV flipping back and forth between NASCAR (Great job Jimmy Johnson) and the NCAA Tournament scores.  Some teams have really messed up my brackets.  😦  It’s been interesting to see how all this will play out — I don’t take it very seriously, but I am having fun with it.
  • Tonight our choir rehearsed for next week.  I am really looking forward to next Sunday and hearing them sing.  It was pretty cool to worship as we sang this evening.  They are doing a great job.
  • As a bonus, we had a little after choir fellowship over a Dairy Queen.  A great time was had by all!
  • Time to wrap it up and get ready for another week.

Seize the Day!

Sunday Set List

March 21, 2010

Fifth Sunday in Lent

 

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship and Invocation    Psalm 126

*Songs of Praise and Worship    

    Majesty

    Mighty to Save

    The Old Rugged Cross

*Connecting in Prayer

Song of Praise and Worship

    Above All

    The Power of the Cross

Giving Back to God

Special Music    

    

Worship through God’s Word    

Extreme Makeover: Holiness Edition

Everything Is Not Too Much

Colossians 1:9-14

 

Song of Commitment        

    When I Survey the Wondrous Cross    

*Benediction

Post-service Music

Spring Is Here!

A week ago Pam and I came home from FLAME to find that the snow that we had left here was almost completely gone.  Over the past week, the snow that was left (mainly piled in parking lots) has disappeared as well.  We have had several 70 degree days and the grass (which was well watered by the snow melt) is beginning to turn green.  After the winter that we had here in the Shenandoah Valley, it appears that spring is breaking out all over.  During my runs this week, I noticed that there were many more people using the park.  In fact, after dinner there is almost a traffic jam of people using the park.  It was cool to see the young boys and girls beginning to prepare themselves for baseball season.  The flowers are beginning to break out.  We are still waiting for the trees, but all in good time.  This reminds me of why I like spring so much.  For the past several weeks, we have been taking this journey of prayer and fasting that we call Lent.  In three weeks from now, we will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and the new life that comes from that.  Perhaps your life has felt a little wintry, but there is hope.  Spring is coming — trust in Jesus!

Running Update

Legs Like Lead

That’s how my third lap felt today at Gypsy Hill Park.  It is a beautiful first day of Spring here in the Shenandoah Valley.  During my run, Pam and James walked a lap.  I ran 3.9 miles in 48:29 for a 12:25 mile.  Not too bad.  There was a time that would have been a very fast run.  Today if felt slow.  Time to get off and enjoy this beautiful spring day!

Pressing On!

Weekly Lectionary Reading

Fifth Sunday In Lent
March 21, 2010

Isaiah 43:16-21 * Psalm 126 * Philippians 3:4-14 * John 12:1-8

16 I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.

18 “But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
the jackals and owls, too,
for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21 I have made Israel for myself,
and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

This morning’s Old Testament passage reminds us that God is in the transforming business.  He desires us to have a close relationship with him.  During Pam’s classes this past week, someone asked about a definition of holiness.  The professor replied, “I am in love with the Lord as much as I can be today, and I am sure that tomorrow I will be more in love with him and each day grow closer to him.”  I thought that was really good.  God has begun a good work in us.  He desires that we be more and more like Christ everyday.  Will you make that your prayer today?