Other Sacred Actions In Worship

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

Although the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, has always been the most distinctive sacred or sacramental act of Christian worship, the historic church has found certain other events of worship to be especially symbolic of spiritual realities. These actions, as reviewed in the next seven entries, are "sacramental" in that they serve as windows into the unseen aspects of the relationship between God and the people of God. They have their foundations in the experience, the understanding, and the...

Baptism In Scripture

Christian baptism has its origins in the various Jewish rites of ritual purification and in John's baptism of repentance. Christian baptism differs from its antecedents, however, in important respects. It is baptism in the name of Jesus, signifying a belonging to him, and is associated with the gifting of the Holy Spirit. Baptism symbolizes a participation in Christ's death and resurrection and the believer's incorporation into the new covenant people of God. The New Testament does not lay out a specified order for the rite of baptism.

Confirmation In Scripture

Confirmation is the historic rite of initiation into the full fellowship of the body of Christ. Christian initiation in the early church apparently consisted of two actions, baptism followed by imposition of hands for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The sequence of events was governed by the early disciples' personal experience of salvation in Christ and the endowment of his Spirit. Paul, reflecting theologically, brought out the underlying spiritual unity of the two rites.

The Rite of Foot Washing

While foot washing is not one of the traditional sacraments of the church, it is recognized as a sacramental action in many segments of the Christian faith.

Sacramental Anointing

Anointing, as a physical action pointing to a spiritual reality, had its origins in the practical use of oil for cosmetic and therapeutic purposes. Anointing became a symbolic expression of blessing or of the setting apart of a person or object for purposes that transcend the profane or common dimension of life. The title Christ or Messiah applied to Jesus means "Anointed One. "

Ordination In The New Testament

The specific terminology of ordination is not found in the New Testament, although several occasions are described on which people were set aside for special tasks of ministry. A fuller development of the theory of ordination took place in the post-New Testament church.

Christian Marriage

In biblical cultures, the celebration of marriage was not a religious rite but a festival of common life involving family, friends, and community. Although Scripture contains some poetry for use in marriage celebrations (Song of Songs, Psalm 45), it does not describe a marriage as a religious ceremony. However, in both the Old and New Testaments the institution of marriage is viewed as sacramental, as a symbol of the relationship between the Lord and the covenant community.

Reconciliation and Priesthood

Reconciliation, as a result of Christian worship and community life, is an important New Testament concept. Reconciliation is mediated through the practice of the apostolic vocation of all believers and supremely through the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Although there is no specific rite of reconciliation in the New Testament, both baptism and the Lord's Supper, or Eucharist, have sacramental implications in the process of reconciliation through communion with God in Christ.