What is a Sacrament?

I hope you are all continuing to stay well and healthy despite everything moving apace. I am sat at home having opened the church and had several conversations with people on the street and in the shops (all at the required distance, I promise) surrounded by 3 phones and the computer all of which keep going all of the time. I have discovered – what I probably already knew – that it is much harder to have pastoral discussions on the telephone, by WhatsApp or text when you can’t see someone or their body language but perhaps I am learning to listen more deeply too.

People want to talk – of course they do and it is really important for us all to listen and to take time to hear what people are concerned about. However, I am also realising that the concerns of others can very easily make ourselves feel vulnerable so I want to encourage you to listen to the people around you or on the end of your own phones but please make sure you take time to do other things as well. However small or big there are other things to do that can still give us life.

That got me thinking about one of the questions we would have explored at our Lent groups this week – What is a Sacrament? The dictionary answer is ‘an outward and visible symbol of God’s presence.’ The Church of England have three sacraments – The Eucharist, Marriage and Baptism – all of them help us to encounter God in our lives and have symbolic meaning throughout the worship that helps us to understand the greater meaning of God.

For example the marriage service is about joining two people as one with God’s love surrounding them – we join the hands of the couple, they exchange vows, we bless and exchange rings and therefore they stay as sacramental symbols of God’s love as they wear them throughout all the ups and downs of life, we even ‘tie the knot’ with our stole once we have pronounced them man and wife – all symbolic actions of God’s love in our lives. Marriage and the service are therefore sacraments in themselves.

During the Eucharist we bring the bread and wine that help us to remember Christ’s love for us and in the re-membering and the sharing it is then that the sacrament of God’s sacrifice and love for each of us is outwardly shown to all of us.

During Baptism we use the elements of oil, water and light to allow families to know of God’s love and protection for them and how his promise is always to walk with them through the journey of life whatever takes place.

And all of these things help us to realise that we are then – each of us – a walking sacrament in the lives of those around us.

We might not be able to gather; we cannot hug or kiss one another; we cannot even maybe go out of our homes but what if everything we do do in the next few weeks and maybe months we do as if a) we believe ourselves to be walking sacraments loved and cherished by God and therefore being outward and visible symbols to those we are sharing our lives with at the moment and b) those things we need to do around the house are also done as if they are sacramental – part of our everyday worship of God.

Brother Lawrence (1611-1691) a monk at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Paris wrote the following quotes:

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

So therefore, whatever you need to do today – whether it be big or small – think of it as being a sacrament – an offering to God but also an offering from God that shows His love in the world.

For however far you might feel He is today He is right beside you and will never leave you. Remember the promise of Jesus – “I am with you until the end of the age.”

Stay well and keep in touch
with love

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10:00 Eucharist


Thursday service times:

10:00 Eucharist

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