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Vieraskieliset / In-english

The Sac­ra­ments

Vieraskieliset / In-english
16.11.2016 9.00

In ec­c­le­si­as­tic lan­gu­a­ge, sac­ra­ments re­fer to pro­cee­dings that are con­si­de­red es­pe­ci­al­ly im­por­tant and holy. The Bib­le does not men­ti­on anyt­hing about sac­ra­ments, and dif­fe­rent churc­hes have dif­fe­rent num­bers of sac­ra­ments. The Ro­man Cat­ho­lic and Ort­ho­dox churc­hes have se­ven sac­ra­ments, while the churc­hes of the Re­for­ma­ti­on have on­ly two: Bap­tism and Com­mu­ni­on. The churc­hes of the Re­for­ma­ti­on, i.e., Pro­tes­tant churc­hes, con­si­der as sac­ra­ments on­ly those that are ba­sed on Je­sus’s ins­ti­tu­ti­on and com­mand.

Au­dib­le and vi­sib­le word

A cha­rac­te­ris­tic fe­a­tu­re of the sac­ra­ments is a vi­sib­le subs­tan­ce. In­deed, they are cal­led the vi­sib­le word of God. In the be­gin­ning God cre­a­ted eve­ryt­hing by and through His word alo­ne. A per­son’s faith al­so co­mes by he­a­ring the word. The word of God con­tains enough po­wer to move moun­tains and to sof­ten a per­son’s he­art. The word is God’s in­vi­sib­le tool. The word of God is al­so pre­sent in the sac­ra­ments—Bap­tism and Com­mu­ni­on—but in ad­di­ti­on they both con­tain a vi­sib­le subs­tan­ce. In Bap­tism it is wa­ter, and in Com­mu­ni­on it is bread and wine.

Lut­her te­ac­hes that wa­ter wit­hout the word of God is on­ly wa­ter, but when it is com­bi­ned with the word of God it is the grace-rich wa­ter of life. Li­ke­wi­se, we can say that bread and wine wit­hout the word of God are on­ly bread and wine, but when they are com­bi­ned with the word of God they are the body and blood of Christ. The Re­dee­mer Him­self is in­vi­sib­ly yet truly pre­sent in Bap­tism and Com­mu­ni­on. He Him­self gi­ves us His grace by me­ans of vi­sib­le subs­tan­ces. The sac­ra­ments are hid­den, ama­zing, and in­comp­re­hen­sib­le to the mind. Bey­ond of their in­ten­ded use the subs­tan­ces of the sac­ra­ments do not con­tain su­per­na­tu­ral po­wer. Ne­vert­he­less, they should be hand­led res­pect­ful­ly.

Ac­cor­ding to the simp­le te­ac­hing of the Bib­le, the word of God is to be pre­ac­hed to all, but the sac­ra­ments are to be gi­ven to those who have re­cei­ved the word and be­lie­ved it. Fol­lo­wing Je­sus’s ex­hor­ta­ti­on, the apost­les first pre­ac­hed the gos­pel and the­re­af­ter bap­ti­zed those in whose he­art the Holy Spi­rit had en­gen­de­red faith. Neit­her was the Com­mu­ni­on tab­le in the ear­ly church set for all pe­op­le; on­ly be­lie­ving pe­op­le gat­he­red around the tab­le. The sac­ra­ments are used cor­rect­ly when they are re­cei­ved in faith. At the same time they are as if an oath of al­le­gi­an­ce, for through them God con­firms that He is faith­ful and mer­ci­ful to­ward sin­ful man. In this way He strengt­hens our faith and gi­ves us cou­ra­ge and hope.

So­me­ti­mes one may get the imp­res­si­on that man’s sal­va­ti­on de­pends on the sac­ra­ments. Ho­we­ver, no one fa­ces dam­na­ti­on be­cau­se of a lack of sac­ra­ments. On­ly dis­dain for the sac­ra­ments will con­demn a per­son. Ac­cor­ding to the word of God the sac­ra­ments will not make an un­be­lie­ver a be­lie­ver, and a bap­ti­zed per­son may give up his or her faith. Such a per­son needs to re­pent. God is mer­ci­ful to­ward sin­ful man, and a pe­ni­tent per­son can­not be de­nied the for­gi­ve­ness of sins.

What is our at­ti­tu­de to­ward holy mat­ters?

The sac­ra­ments are holy pro­cee­dings, me­a­ning that Com­mu­ni­on is not or­di­na­ry ea­ting or drin­king and Bap­tism is not or­di­na­ry was­hing. The ho­li­ness of the sac­ra­ments should al­so be ex­ten­ded to the lan­gu­a­ge we use. Par­ta­king of Com­mu­ni­on wine and drin­king al­co­hol are two dif­fe­rent things, even though Com­mu­ni­on wine usu­al­ly con­tains al­co­hol.

Bap­tism is a sac­ra­ment of star­ting on a jour­ney; it is per­for­med on­ly on­ce. Com­mu­ni­on is a sac­ra­ment of the jour­ney, which can be par­ti­ci­pa­ted in dai­ly, even. Neit­her of the sac­ra­ments is gi­ven an age li­mit in the Bib­le, and prac­ti­ces vary. A sui­tab­le age and the cor­rect prac­ti­ce are on­ly in our minds and are ba­sed on our tra­di­ti­ons. Child bap­tism and adult bap­tism are of equ­al va­lue, as are al­so or­di­na­ry bap­tism and im­mer­si­on bap­tism.

Pa­rents may take their child­ren along to Com­mu­ni­on church. The child­ren can al­so come to the Com­mu­ni­on tab­le. It is the Sup­per of the mem­bers of God’s fa­mi­ly. If a child’s Com­mu­ni­on feels stran­ge, it is pos­sib­le to ask that the child is bles­sed. Can we wish anyt­hing bet­ter for a child than: “May the grace of our Lord Je­sus Christ, the love of the he­a­ven­ly Fat­her, and the fel­lows­hip of the Holy Spi­rit be with you?” The me­a­ning of Com­mu­ni­on should be taught to child­ren simp­ly, for examp­le by sa­ying that Je­sus Him­self is pre­sent here even though we can­not see Him. He is strengt­he­ning our faith.

Text: Yr­jö Tala

Sour­ce: Vuo­si­kir­ja 2006, Oi­kea ja vää­rä (Ye­ar­book 2006, Right and wrong)

Trans­la­ti­on: K. K.

Jul­kais­tu eng­lan­nin­kie­li­ses­sä nu­me­ros­sa 16.11.2016


Kos­kaan en ota hä­nel­tä pois ar­mo­a­ni, mi­nun liit­to­ni kes­tää hor­ju­mat­ta. Ps. 89:29

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