Sacraments as God’s Pathway
I confess that I am not, by nature, very sacramental or liturgical. Even taking seriously the repetitive nature of the Jewish and Christian calendar has been a continuing learning experience for me. (Which is probably not terribly surprising for a person who grew up not paying much attention to either birthdays or Christmas or any other seasonal holiday—except whatever day school vacation was to begin that year.)
Little by little, however, I have learned to appreciate the power of the Advent season and the season of Lent, thanks to the influence of sisters and brothers who helped give some really meaningful content to these cycles in the worship life of New Covenant. Both seasons encourage us to be delighted that we have been invited into God’s great story of Creation and Redemption, of humanity and of Israel.
In this light, I would also like to challenge us to be more attentive to the power of the communion/Eucharist and baptism/immersion. Here we have two more invitations to publicly enact our acceptance of God’s invitation to be delighted to be invited.
Even though we spread the communion tables every week in our Sunday worship service, it is very easy for me—and I suspect for some of you—to forget that this is an enactment of God’s invitation to take God’s next step with Jesus in the great story of creation and redemption. It is an opportunity to remember both the cost and the joy of this great next step in God’s great banquet invitation: The cost—“body broken” and “life-blood poured out” for you—and the celebration—the great basics of provision and sustenance and joyful parties, wine and food! We are invited, week after week, to renew our acceptance of the story and to renew our desire to be the story in the days ahead. What a powerful invitation to allow God, again and again, to incarnate God’s great story into our daily lives as we take in the bread and wine. Are you delighted to be invited?
Baptism seems to have been somewhat diminished in importance among us. I am sure that the overemphasis on it in my background has led me to be a bit skittish about even the proper emphasis. For that I want to repent, because baptism is also a wonderful invitation from God toward incarnation of God’s story in each of our lives. Baptism by immersion is an invitation to enact publicly our acceptance of God’s invitation for us to join in the covenant story of Israel, as it has been moved forward in Jesus. It is our opportunity to publicly cast our lives and our future into the great burial and resurrection narrative of God’s offer of life through Jesus. This story of hurt and death, and of reversal and vindication, did not begin nor end with Jesus; it has been God’s story with humans throughout history. It is the story of Israel. It is the story of the Hebrew prophets.
However, it is enacted in fullness in Jesus. Jesus is God’s invitation for everyone from every nation and every background to publicly say, “I accept God’s invitation. I am in. I want to join the story. I want to be the story.” Are you delighted to be invited?