Before I became a Christian I wondered about what those within the church call the sacraments. I wondered at their purpose. What could a physical act like communion or baptism have to do with faith? It’s just something you do. It’s ritual. It’s as much of a ritual as my morning coffee. What, then, makes these acts different to my morning coffee? What defines them as spiritual?
As I sat in church over the years, God grew in me an appreciation for the sacraments. It’s not something I give much thought to often, but tonight dragged it to the forefront of my mind. At Newtown Mission, before dinner on Thursday nights we have a chapel service. The chapel is full of all sorts of people and the singing is often out of key but still one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. A melodic cacophony to the glory of God. Tonight, before chapel, a woman approached myself and another team member.
She was getting baptised during chapel and was nervous. We prayed with her and for her and spoke about the great joy baptism is. As I prayed, thoughts formed in my mind about why it is that these physical acts are something meaningful… They’re tangible representations of who we are.
There’s a beautiful tangibility about baptism. There’s something about a physical sign to show that you are in Christ. A new creation, a beloved child, a disciple of the Messiah. You are washed. You are cleansed. This tangible sign of your new identity is a beautiful thing. It is not about the water. It is about the God who declares you to be His. It is about the God who declares that there is no longer any condemnation and that nothing can separate you from His love.
Kinaesthetic learning is valuable, and the sacraments are often kinaesthetic lessons and signs of who we are in Christ, and why it is that we are that way. It is beautiful. It is tangible.
I remember my own baptism. My friend had just preached and called anyone who wanted to be baptised forward. I had been a Christian for at least four years at that point and had simply just… not gotten around to it. Hesitantly I walked forward, and my friend turned his microphone off and whispered, “about time, kid.” before turning it back on to baptise me.
Nothing magical happened. But it was simply a tangible moment in which God declared that He has made me His child. He has washed me clean. Beautiful. Tangible.
I know there’s more to it, but I’m not writing a comprehensive theology of the sacraments here… That’s for a college essay sometime, I suppose. I just wanted to let you know that tonight God declared someone to be His beloved child. Would you pray for her?