Palm Coast UMC
Friday, August 01, 2014
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Sacraments of the United Methodist Church
How the United Methodist Church Understands Baptism and Holy Communion
Far from empty rituals, the sacraments are two means by which believers receive empowerment directly from God, enabling a lifetime of faithful service to Jesus Christ.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, in his sermon The Means of Grace delivered in the early 1740's, called the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion outward signs of inward grace, and a means whereby we receive the same.
What Are the Sacraments, and Why Do They Matter?
It's believed that Christians have a Biblical responsibility to take part in the sacraments. Jesus himself was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34); and, just before his ascension, he instructed his disciples to continue baptizing (Matthew 28:19). Jesus also instituted the celebration of Holy Communion when he broke bread with his followers on the night before his crucifixion (Matthew 26:25-29, Mark 14:21-25, Luke 22:15-21, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). The United Methodist Church recognizes Holy Communion (also called the Eucharist and the Lord's Supper) and Baptism as sacraments because they were instituted by Jesus as means of bestowing the grace of God upon the recipient.
BAPTISM IN THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
In baptism, the candidate makes a public confession of her/his faith in Christ, is formally received into the fellowship of believers, and pledges to respond in faithful and loving service to the grace given them by God. United Methodists believe and confess that God pours out the Holy Spirit on the candidate during baptism, washing away their sins and empowering them to live according to the Gospel. This outpouring of forgiveness and empowerment is alluded to in the symbolism of washing by water. The candidate is empowered through the grace of God to begin and to sustain a life of Christian discipleship.
When an infant is baptized, the parents speak for the child in the taking of the baptismal vows, promising, along with the congregation, to provide spiritual guidance as the child grows to be able to honor the vows in the future. When the child becomes old enough to openly profess those baptismal vows, he/she undergoes the process of confirmation: being educated in the meaning of being a professing member of the body of Christ, subsequently making a profession of faith before the congregation. Older children/adolescents, as well as adults who are of sound mind, do not require the same mediation of the vows that infants do; therefore, they take the vows themselves at baptism.
Baptism, as practiced in The United Methodist Church, has commemorative, celebratory, and anticipatory aspects: it commemorates what God’s grace has already accomplished in the believer’s life, it celebrates the forgiveness of sins and the initiation into the Church that are emphasized during the ritual, and it anticipates a future of growing in grace and in closeness to God as one honors the baptismal vows.
HOLY COMMUNION IN THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Those same commemorative, celebratory, and anticipatory aspects of Baptism are also part of the sacrament of the Holy Communion. The recipient acknowledges and commemorates the atoning death of Christ, celebrates the grace bestowed by God upon those who receive the bread and wine/juice in faith, and anticipates the coming day when those who believe in Christ will come into everlasting communion with him.
Clergy who preside during Holy Communion are called to emphasize three things to the household of faith: 1) that Christ extends the invitation to all (called the Open Table); 2) that the grace of God is readily available to all who come to the table in faith (known as Previenient Grace); and 3) that, as in the sacrament of baptism, the efficacy of the Lord’s Supper, undeniable though it is, defies human understanding or explanation. Preserving this sense of mystery is essential, so that those who receive the sacrament regularly never lose the sense of awe and wonder that should always accompany the act of breaking bread with one another at the Lord’s Table.
Share Article | Mar 15, 2010 Jason Mincey
At Palm Coast United Methodist Church, The Lord's Supper is celebrated the first Sunday of every month at all services.
If you feel the Lord calling you to serve the church as a Communion Servant, or would like information about our "Preparation and Training of Communion Servants," contact the church office by phone at 386-445-1600 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Please enter "Communion Servant" in the subject line.