Not everything was covered by the time of the confirmation, so I have a few things to finish up with. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting the final confirmation conversations. As per usual, post any comments or questions, or catch me on Sundays.
Central to the Anglican way of life is the important place we have for the sacraments. I have already written briefly about Baptism in the first conversation. In this blog I will write about the Eucharist, and some other sacraments that are important to Anglicans. I will use their formal names, so we know what they are if other people refer to them in that way. A sacrament is often called an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.
The Eucharist, which means thanksgiving, is known by some other names: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion or Mass. In the Eucharist we receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ through the everyday forms of bread and wine. In the Eucharist we commemorate and celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We repeat what he told us to do: ‘do this in remembrance of me’. Through the Eucharist we celebrate Jesus’ eternal presence with us, and look forward to the time when we will be with Jesus forever. The Eucharist is a Trinitarian (I wrote about the Trinity a few weeks ago) act of worship to the Father, through Jesus Christ in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. God the Trinity is present with us whenever we celebrate the Eucharist.
Some people get a little hung up about how the body and blood of Jesus is present. Do the bread and the wine actually change? Is the Eucharist just a form of remembering and nothing more? In the Anglican Church we allow for a number of interpretations, but the‘official line’ is that ‘we feed on him in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving’, or as the 39 Articles put it: ‘the body of Christ is given, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.’ (Article 28)
Confirmation, Penance, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Unction
The main sacraments of the church are Baptism and the Eucharist. These have been given to us by Jesus. However, we do have five extra sacraments in the church, which we call ‘commonly called sacraments’. These are not necessarily from Jesus, but have came to be valued in the life of the church.
Confirmation - In confirmation we confirm the promises made at out baptism. Some of us were baptised as infants and so we were not able to speak for ourselves. At confirmation we are given the opportunity to publicly take on for ourselves our Christian commitment. This rite is performed by the bishop who represents the wider church and is our chief Pastor.
Penance – In penance we make our own confession for sin. We normally do this together at the Eucharist, but at other times we can make private confession to a priest. The priest will offer us guidance, prayer and, normally, God’s forgiveness of our sins (absolution). Please speak to me if you wish to make a private confession. The Anglican rule for private confessions is: all can, none must, some should. Please remember that confession is confidential, accept in cases of the abuse of a child where the priest is mandated to report.
Holy Orders – Holy orders are the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop. All Christians are commissioned for ministry. However, holy orders are ministries given to the church for guidance, instruction, pastoral care and leadership.
Matrimony – Christian marriage is given to the Church to bless people who choose to live together in a loving partnership.
Unction - Christians are called to pray, lay hands upon, and anoint with oil those who are sick (James 5: 14 – 15). Unction is the ministry of healing. At St. Jude’s we have a healing service at the 9.30am service on the third Sunday of the month. At this service people are invited to receive the ministry of healing, either for themselves or in the name of another. However, the ministry of healing occurs at other times as well. Please let me know if you desire this ministry of prayer.