Sacraments – Baptism & Communion

The following is from the United Church of Christ website:  What are Sacraments?  Sacraments are ritual actions in worship which, according to Scripture, were instituted by Jesus. In the sacraments of baptism and communion we ask the Holy Spirit to use water, bread, and wine to make visible the grace, forgiveness, and presence of God in Christ.  “We are One at Baptism and at the Table –  Just some water, just a simple meal of bread and juice, but for us in the United Church of Christ, what is simple means much more. We celebrate two sacraments. One is Baptism. The other is Holy Communion, which is also often called the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist. Sacraments are our ritual acts in worship life when the Holy Spirit uses water, bread, and wine to make visible the grace, forgiveness, and presence of God in Christ.” Click here to link to the Sacraments Page of the UCC Website

 

 

The Sacrament of Baptism at St. John’s United Church of Christ 

 

At St. John’s we primarily practice infant baptism when the child is a few months old, but baptisms of young adults as part of their confirmation or adults who have not been baptized as children are welcome, too. We see baptism is a sacrament of God’s boundless grace, a celebration of God’s unconditional, never ending love.

 

What Happens During St. John’s Baptism Service? When we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism during our worship service, the parents, godparents and pastors stand before the congregation and participate in responsive readings to make promises in the presence of God to the child being presented for baptism.  (Where the words ‘the child’ or ‘your child’ appear below, the child’s full name is read at the service.)  The parents promise, with God’s help, to reflect God’s “no strings attached”, endless love in their relationship with the child. We say that baptism is also a christening, completing the naming process. To the name given the child, we add the name, “Child of God, member of God’s family”, and ask the parents to  “seek to help your child come to know who he is at the deepest and most basic level”? We know that infant baptism is a step toward Confirmation, when we ask our young adults to confess their faith in God. And so, during infant baptism, we speak these words: “Baptism is also about anticipation. We anticipate the time when (your child) will confirm the decision to live in the power of God’s love and grace and follow the ways of Christ. (See Confirmation page on website). Will you, with your nurturing and encouragement, prepare (your child) for that time?” The godparents promise “Will you, the Godparents, support (this child) in this commitment and become a special friend and faith partner to (the child)? And finally, the congregation promises, “Will you the congregation of St. John’s promise your friendship, prayers, love, and availability to (the parents and the child)? The response to all questions is “Yes, we will.” At this point the pastor holds the child, takes a handful of water from the baptismal font, and places it on the child’s head while speaking words of baptism.   This is followed by a Baptism Hymn, often the familiar “Jesus Loves Me”, as the pastor congratulates the family and they return to their pews.  The family is encouraged to be present at our Fellowship Time after worship so we can ‘meet and greet’ them after worship.

 

Some families select the option to have the baptism take place on a Sunday morning following the worship service, and our pastors will accommodate those requests.  We do believe that the participation of the congregation is important in helping raise the child as part of our church family but the parents can make the decision when to hold the baptism. 

 

“John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  LUKE 3: 16 (NRSV) 

 

The Sacrament of Communion at St. John’s United Church of Christ.  At St. John’s United Church of Christ, we believe that ALL who hunger and thirst for what Christ has to offer us are welcome to participate in the Sacrament of Communion.  We celebrate this sacrament about one Sunday each month, with Communion part of our worship also during special services such as on Maundy Thursday, Easter, Pentecost, World Communion Sunday (first Sunday in October) and the late service on Christmas Eve.  We also offer midweek noon Communion the last Wednesday of most months and more opportunities during Lent and Advent – see the church calendar, Herald or the Enlightener for specific dates.  During our 10:15 am service and most special services Communion is served by members of St. John’s to the congregation at their seats – plates are passed to you that hold the bread and wine or grape juice.  When all are served, we pause and all take and eat or drink together. At the 8:00 am service or Wednesday communion the congregation may be asked to come forward to take part in the communion lead by the pastors.  Gluten-free bread is available at every communion celebrated at St. John’s, along with the option of grape juice or wine.

 

About Communion: from the United Church of Christ:  In the sacrament of Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist, meaning “thanksgiving,” Christians hear, taste, touch and receive the grace of God revealed through Jesus Christ in a unique way. Communion is: a joyous act of thanksgiving for all God has done, is doing, and will do for the redeeming of creation; a sacred memorial of the crucified and risen Christ, a living and effective sign of Christ’s sacrifice in which Christ is truly and rightly present to those who eat and drink; an earnest prayer for the presence of the Holy Spirit to unite those who partake with the Risen Christ and with each other, and to restore creation, making all things new; an intimate experience of fellowship in which the whole church in every time and place is present and divisions are overcome; a hopeful sign of the promised Realm of God marked by justice, love and peace.The United Church of Christ Book of Worship reminds us that “the invitation and the call [to the supper] celebrate not only the memory of a meal that is past, but an actual meal with the risen Christ that is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet at which Christ will preside at the end of history.”

 

Our St. John’s Communion ceremony is simple and meaningful.  The following is a sample of the Communion liturgy we might use during a Communion service – the words may change slightly but this would be what you might hear on a Communion Sunday.
 
 
 
Sacrament Of Holy Communion – Sample St. John’s Liturgy
 
 

Celebrant: The Lord be with you.

People: And also with you.

Celebrant: Up with your hearts!

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Celebrant: Lord, we thank you and praise you. Only you are God. You created all things and called them good. You made us in your own image. Even when we rebelled against your love, you did not desert us. You delivered us from captivity, made covenant and spoke to us through your prophets.

People: God we thank you and praise you.

Celebrant: Because there is one loaf, we, many as we are, are one body; for we all partake of one loaf. When we break the bread, is it not a means of sharing in the body of Christ?

People: We are one; this is the body of Christ.

Celebrant: All is ready. Come let us share together.

RECEIVING THE BREAD RECEIVING THE CUP (Wine outer circle, grape juice inner circles, gluten free bread is available)

DEDICATION OF LIFE

Celebrant: You have given yourself to us, Lord.

People: Now we give ourselves for others. Celebrant: Your love has made us a new people. People: As a people of love, we will serve with joy.

Celebrant: Your glory has filled our hearts.

People: Help us glorify you in all things.

All: Amen
 
 
Again, we remind you that whether you are a long time member, a first time visitor, or anyone in between, no matter your age, gender, orientation, or affiliation with this church or another or no affiliation, if you hunger and thirst for what Christ has to offer you, you are welcome at Christ’s holy table at St. John’s United Church of Christ!  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11.26: (NRSV)