Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Presbyterians have two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The Reformed tradition understands Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to be instituted by God and commended by Christ. They are signs of the real presence and power of Christ in the Church, symbols of God’s action. Through the Sacraments, God seals believers in redemption, renews their identity as the people of God, and marks them for service. (Book of Order, W1.3033.2)
The early Church, following Jesus, took three material elements of life – water, bread, and wine – to become basic symbols of offering life to God as Jesus had offered his life. Being washed with the waters of Baptism, Christians received new life in Christ and presented their bodies to be living sacrifices to God. Eating bread and drinking wine they received the sustaining presence of Christ, remembered God’s covenant promise, and pledged their obedience anew.” (Book of Order, W-1.3033.1)
In Baptism, the Holy Spirit binds the church in covenant to its Creator and Lord. Baptism enacts and seals what the Word proclaims: God’s redeeming grace offered to all people. Baptism is God’s gift of grace and also summons to respond to that grace. Baptism calls to repentance, to faithfulness, and to discipleship. Baptism gives the church its identity and commissions the church for ministry to the world. (Book of Order, W-2.3006) Baptism is a person’s entry into the church. It signifies a beginning of life in Christ, not its completion. Water is used for Baptism and is applied to the person by pouring, sprinkling or immersion. It is applied visibly and generously.
Both believers and their children are included in God’s covenant love. The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith. Parents of children who are church members are encouraged to have their children baptized. Baptism whether administered to those who profess their faith or to those presented for Baptism as children, is one and the same Sacrament.
Baptism, therefore, usually occurs during infancy, though a person may be baptized at any age. Parents bring their children to church, where they publicly declare their desire that he or she be baptized. When an infant or child is baptized the church commits itself to nurture the child in faith. When adults are baptized they make a public profession of faith. As there is one body, there is one Baptism (Ephesians 4:4-6). The Presbyterian Church recognizes all Baptisms with water in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit administered by other Christian churches. (Book of Order, W-2.4001a)
The Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of eating and drinking in communion with the crucified and risen Lord, Jesus Christ. As Jesus shared meals with his followers as a sign of community and acceptance, so around the Table of the Lord, God’s people are in communion with Christ and with all who belong to Christ. All the baptized faithful are welcomed to the Table, and none shall be excluded because of race, sex, age, economic status, social class, handicapping condition, difference of culture or language or any barrier created by human injustice. Coming to the Lord’s Table the faithful are actively to seek reconciliation in every instance of conflict or division between them and their neighbors. (Book of Order, W-2.4006)
At Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church, the Lord’s Supper is observed on the Lord’s Day, the first Sunday of the month and at other times as determined by the Session. Invitation to the Lord’s Supper is extended to all who have been baptized, remembering that access to the Table is not a right conferred upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the underserving who come in faith, repentance, and love. In preparing to receive Christ in this Sacrament, believers confess sin and brokenness, seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal. Even one who doubts or whose trust is wavering may come to the Table in order ot be assured of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ. (Book of Order, W-2.4011a)