Sacraments at St. Paul’s
Our Anglican tradition recognizes sacraments as “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 857) Holy Baptism and the Eucharist (or Holy Communion) are the two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church.
“Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 298).
The sacrament of Holy Baptism is one of initiation, union, forgiveness, and rebirth. In baptism we become members of the Christian faith as we symbolically andspiritually are joined with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Baptism is appropriate for both adults who feel called and children whose parents desire it. While adults answer for themselves and speak their own vows, parents and sponsors, or godparents, make baptismal promises on behalf of little children.
Everyone who is baptized is sponsored by a baptized Christian. The godparents present those seeking the sacrament and affirm that they will “be responsible for seeing that the child (they) present is brought up in the Christian faith and life.” Furthermore, godparents pledge to pray for their godchildren and set a godly example for them. Lastly, godparents take the baptismal vows on behalf of small children.
We almost always have baptisms during the regular Sunday 10:00am service and almost always on one of the major baptismal feasts. The Church year sets aside four special celebrations for baptism:
Spring – The Easter Vigil (Saturday, the night before Easter Day)
Spring – The Day of Pentecost (eight Sundays after Easter)
Fall – All Saints Day or the Sunday after All Saints Day (November)
Winter – The Feast of Baptism of Our Lord (First Sunday of Epiphany)
Eucharist (or Holy Communion) is the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood, and the principal act of Christian Worship. The term “eucharist” is from the Greek, “thanksgiving.” In the Book of Common Prayer, the whole service is entitled the Holy Eucharist (the first part designated to the liturgy of the word and the second portion designated to Holy Communion).
Jesus instituted the eucharist “on the night when he was betrayed.” At the Last Supper he shared the bread and wine with his disciples and commanded them to “do this” in remembrance of him. Christ’s sacrifice is made present by the eucharist, and in it we are untied to his one self-offering. Christ’s presence is also known in the gathered eucharistic community.
At St. Paul’s and in The Episcopal Church, we believe that all Baptized Christians are welcome to receive communion. We are happy to provide gluten-free wafers upon request. Those who wish to receive a priestly blessing are also welcome to come forward during communion.
First Communion Class
While The Episcopal Church believes that the Sacrament of Baptism invites disciples of all ages to receive communion (Baptism is the full initiation into Christ’s Body, the Church), some families wish to have their children wait to partake in receiving their first communion until they receive further formation on what this sacrament means.
Children aged 7 or older who are interested in learning more about Holy Communion can gather in a one day “Chapel Chat” to learn more about the significance of The Eucharist. In this course, children have the opportunity to explore the sanctuary as they journey from the font to the table. Providing this course allows children, youth and their families to take a closer look at all of the ritual that takes place in the context of a worship service, to ask spirit-filled questions and build a deeper relationship with God and one another before receiving their first communion.
While this course is designed for children and youth who have not received communion before, we encourage all children and youth to experience our “First Communion Class” as part of their faith journey. The class is offered in the Spring, and the children are recognized on the following Sunday.