“Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 857)
The Sacraments of the Episcopal Church include:
Holy Baptism is one of the two great sacraments of the church instituted by Jesus. Through water and the Holy Spirit, it is full initiation into the body of Christ, the Church. It also marks the beginning of one’s life as a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ within a particular faith community. The expectation is that individuals being baptized will be active members of the congregation.
The sacrament of Baptism is offered several times a year at St. John Divine, usually the Sunday after All Saints Day (1st Sunday in November), the Sunday after Epiphany in January, at the Easter Vigil, the Day of Pentecost. It takes place within the context of the Holy Eucharist, at one of the regular services. Private baptisms are only for emergency situations. Infants, as well as adults, may be candidates for the sacrament. Preparation is required for adults and for the parents and godparents of infants.
The Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion
Holy Eucharist is the second of the two great sacraments of the church instituted by Jesus. It remembers the Last Supper – the meal Jesus shared with his disciples and friends the night before his death. At that meal, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, then gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you.” He took a cup of wine and said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for all for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus instructed his friends to break bread and share wine in remembrance of him.
All baptized persons are invited to share in the bread and wine.
The 1979 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) provides the service of Holy Eucharist in both traditional language and contemporary language rites. The traditional language rites are known as Rite 1, and the contemporary language rites are known as Rite 2. The Rite 1 liturgies reflect the language and piety of the Elizabethan era and the first BCP, although the structure of these liturgies also reflects the influence of modern liturgical scholarship. The Rite 2 liturgies reflect more fully the influence of the liturgical movement and contemporary theology. Rite 2 liturgies tend to reflect greater sensitivity for inclusive language issues.
Confirmation (the adult affirmation of our baptismal vows)
“In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop. Those baptized as adults, unless baptized with laying on of hands by a bishop, are also expected to make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism in the presence of a bishop and to receive the laying on of hands.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 412)
When the Bishop makes his annual visit, those who have been prepared and desire to be confirmed are presented. Those confirmed by a bishop in another Christian tradition are received into the fellowship of this Communion. They are not re-confirmed.
Reconciliation of a Penitent (private confession)
Private confession is available by appointment with any of the clergy of St. John Divine. Please call to make arrangements.
Matrimony (Christian marriage)
Christian marriage is an affirmation of the future as well as one of the sacraments of the Church. It is intended to be a lifelong union of the heart, body, and mind in accordance with the purpose for which it was instituted by God. It is appropriate for Christians to have their marriage vows witnessed and blessed in the Church.
Preparation for marriage is a lengthy process, requiring counseling and careful planning. It is advisable to contact the Church as early as possible during the planning, at least 90 days in advance of a desired date. Weddings are not usually scheduled during Lent. One member of the couple is required to be a baptized Christian. In the case of prior marriage, consent of the Bishop is required for marriage in the Church. Please contact a member of the clergy for more information.
Holy Orders (ordination to deacon, priest, or bishop)
Holy Orders is the ordination of a person to deacon, priest, or bishop.
Unction (anointing with oil those who are sick or dying)
Use of oil for the anointing of the sick at the time of death. After the seventh century, western Christianity associated the rites of anointing with penitence and death. This differed from the earlier practice of anointing for healing and recovery from illness. Unction became a rite reserved for situations in extremis, near death the various movements of liturgical renewal in the twentieth century have recovered the anointing of the sick in its ancient sense as a rite of healing. Anointing may also be done at the time of death.
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult and painful times in the life of a Christian. The clergy and members of the Church are eager to provide pastoral care. It is important to notify the Church Office as soon as possible so that a member of the clergy may call and help with funeral planning.
It is most appropriate that Christians be buried from the Church. Services at the graveside or in a funeral home may also be arranged through the clergy.