What are the sacraments?

43) What are the sacraments or ordinances?

The sacraments or ordinances given by God and instituted by Christ, namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are visible signs and seals that we are bound together as a community of faith by his death and resurrection. By our use of them the Holy Spirit more fully declares and seals the promises of the gospel to us.

“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4) 

“Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (I Corinthians 11:26)

“Do this…”

The sacraments (baptism and Communion) are sometimes called ‘ordinances’ because Christ commanded us to do them. They are not things that we say but things that we do: washing, eating and drinking. These are very ordinary, everyday actions; but when we do them in obedience to Christ’s command, they become acts of great significance.

Signs

Participation in the sacraments differentiates believers from the rest of the world. They are personal statements of commitment to Christ as Lord (as we obey His command to be baptised) and to our acknowledgement of His death as the basis of our forgiveness (as we take Communion). They are also personal statements of commitment to the Church and unity with our Christian brothers and sisters: they show that we are part of a community.

Seals

The sacraments also make God’s blessings real to us. We have the gospel proclaimed to us verbally, as we read our Bibles and listen to sermons; but in the sacraments its message is confirmed and reinforced, visually and by ritual enactment. Thus our faith is strengthened and our relationship with Jesus deepened.

Read more about the sacraments here.

 

God of all grace,
your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry
with the bread of his life
and the word of his kingdom:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your true and living bread;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.                                                                                                                           
 (Collect for last Sunday after Trinity)

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