Back to Sacraments

Sacraments 9    How Odd1

In previous articles we’ve looked at the 7 sacraments of the church.

The sacraments are what you might call the physical expression of God working with us and in us, a reflection of the “incarnation” of Christ – a moment of God “in the flesh”, really here with us, in us.

But there are odd things which may have occurred to you.

Why is it, for example, that anointing is a “sacrament” and “laying on of hands”, equally widely used in ministry to sick people, is not? It so clearly has an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.

Does it not also seem strange that there is not some sacramental view of what happens at death and in somebody’s funeral? At the very moment when the whole of somebody’s life is brought into a deep focus and we commend the person to God’s keeping, we have no “sacrament”, apparently. We stand in front of the sharpest symbol of all – a coffin – expressing the most poignant moment in a person’s whole life since birth, defining a clear inward and spiritual grace - and there is nothing in the list of sacraments to help us.

And why is it that our foundation doctrinal document, the Book of Common Prayer, seems to play down the five lesser sacraments so much and the church ever since has placed an ever increasing emphasis on them? We may not all be falling over ourselves to get to sacramental confession or to be anointed, but marriage, confirmation and ordination seem fundamental to our parish lives.

Indeed, should the list of sacraments be so fixed – and should we not see many things as sacramentally offering us a vehicle of God’s good grace within our lives? Answers on a postcard please….