Sacraments:


Sacraments have 3 characteristics:

1. Commanded by Jesus.
2. Making use of a common element (bread, wine, water)
3. A means of God's grace being active in our lives.

We recognize two sacraments in the Lutheran church: Baptism and Holy Communion (aka the Lord's Supper aka the Eucharist aka the Sacrament of the Altar)


Baptism



Water drop image courtesy of Jani Ravas

Martin Luther says this about "The Sacrament of Holy Baptism" in the Small Catechism:

What is baptism?

Baptism is not simply plain water. Instead, it is water used according to God's command and connected to God's Word.

What then is this word of God?

Where our Lord Jesus Christ says in Matthew 28, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

What gifts or benefits does baptism grant?

It brings about the forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it, as the words and promise of God declare.

What are these words and promises of God?

Where our Lord Christ says in Mark 16, "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.

How can water do such great things?

Clearly the water does not do it, but the word of God, which is with and alongside the water, and faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is plain water and not a baptism, but with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a grace-filled water of life and a "bath of the new birth in the Holy Spirit," as St. Paul says to Titus in chapter 3, "through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This saying is sure."

What then is the significance of such a baptism with water?

It signifies that the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily sorrow and through repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise us to live before God in righteousness and purity forever

Where is this written?

St. Paul says in Romans 6, '"We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."


We at Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran say:

Baptism is a gift from God. Through baptism we are welcomed into community with God and with God's people. Because it is God's work we do not hesitate to baptize infants. If someone who is not an infant expresses a desire to be baptized that is something we would gladly support.

Baptism isn't a once-and-done type of event but rather entrance into God's family. The community makes promises to the one baptized that we take very seriously. Baptism is a real, eternity-altering event that continues to guide and inform us every day.

If you would like to be baptized or have a child that you would like to have baptized, please contact the pastor.


Communion



Communion image courtesy of www.readthespirit.com and is in public domain.


Martin Luther says this about "The Sacrament of the Altar" in the Small Catechism:

What is the Sacrament of the Altar

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself for us Christians to eat and drink.

Where is this written?

The holy evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and St. Paul write thus:
"In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me. Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me."

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

The words "given for you" and "shed for you for the forgiveness of sin" show us that forgiveness of sin, life and salvation are given to us in the sacrament through these words, because where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such a great thing?

Eating and drinking certainly do not do it, but rather the words that are recorded: "given for you" and "shed for you for the forgiveness of sin." These words, when accompanied by the physical eating and drinking, are the essential thing in the sacrament, and whoever believes these very words has what they declare and state, namely, "forgiveness of sin."

Who, then, receives this sacrament worthily?

Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, "given for you" and "shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," is really worthy and well prepared. However, a person who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, because the words "for you" require truly believing hearts.


We at Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran say:

We practice an open communion policy here at the church. If you wish to receive Jesus' body and blood through the bread and the wine you are welcome at the table. This is God's table, not ours.

We practice intinction. You will receive a wafer from the server. If you are in need of a gluten-free wafer those can be found on the glass plate in front of the baptismal font. The server will say "The body of Christ given for you." You then take the wafer and dip it (intinct it) in either glass with wine or, if you prefer, the glass with juice, and in so doing receive both body and blood simultaneously.

If you would like to linger at the altar rail for meditation or prayer after receiving communion you are most welcome to do so.

If you have questions about our communion practices or would like to spend some more intentional time with the pastor discussing communion (as an adult or with your child) please contact the pastor.