When we talk about sacraments, we are talking about ways in which God is revealed to us.
Much of our experience is sacramental, as God is revealed to us in our daily lives, in ways ordinary and extraordinary. For the church, there are specific sacraments or ways that God is revealed to us as we gather.
Our two primary sacraments are Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. Baptism is the sacrament by which we become members of the Body of Christ, and Holy Communion is the sacrament in which our church gathers to feed on God’s abundant outpouring, remembering the life of Jesus Christ.
The Episcopal Church teaches that baptism is the sacrament through which people are joined with the Body of Christ. We baptize people at any age. When infants are baptized, their parents and godparents make promises on their behalf, promising that the child will be raised to grow into the full stature of Christ. When adults are baptized, they make their own promises, in the company of sponsors.
During baptism services, and at other times, the whole community repeats these solemn promises, which we call our baptismal covenant. This covenant defines all that we are as Christians. Among other things, we promise to love God, to continue in the fellowship of the church, and “to seek and serve Christ in all persons.” Out of these promises emerges our journey as Christians, in which we seek to live as God’s beloved, strengthened by the life of Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
If you would like to know more about baptism, please speak with the clergy, who are always happy to answer questions.
This is the sacrament that we experience most often. Every Sunday, we gather for Holy Communion (sometimes called Holy Eucharist or the Mass). This liturgy encompasses the essentials of Christian worship. We gather as a community, praise God, hear God’s Word, respond to the word, pray, and then we come together at the Holy Table to receive the nourishing bread and wine of Communion.
Finally, we are sent into the world to do God’s work. Sometimes it is said that “the worship is ended, now the service begins.” That is about the way we see it. The liturgy is not the goal of our Christian lives, it is rather the strength to live boldy as followers of Christ, seeking to transform the world.
We use prayers from the Book of Common Prayer in our church. We use Rite II, or modern language prayers. Sometimes we use prayers from other approved books, such as Enriching our Worship.
For those people who are shut-ins or hospitalized, we have trained Eucharistic ministers who can bring Communion to them.
Confirmation is the sacrament by which we make a mature profession of faith. In this sacrament, a bishop lays hands on the confirmand. Our understanding is that baptism is full and complete initiation into the church, but the sacrament of confirmation is preserved as part of our rich liturgical heritage, offering us a way to show our desire to follow God and to make a profession of faith (especially for people who were baptized as infants, when they could not make their own promises).
When people join the Episcopal Church after having been baptized in other traditions, the sacrament of confirmation is one way for people to make a profession of faith. Those who were already confirmed in another church can be received into the Episcopal Church by a bishop. Sometimes people desire to recommit their lives to God, and we offer the rite of reaffirmation of faith for those people.
The sacrament of marriage manifests God’s love in a special way. Two people, by their love for one another, remind us of God’s love for the world and of the love of Jesus Christ for the church. This love is meant to endure through good and bad times, and the whole community is expected to support a couple in their love. The Episcopal Church teaches that marriage is primarily for “mutual joy.”
We also understand that marriages can sometimes tear apart, and so the church supports those who struggle in marriage and those who have been divorced. At all times, we see the church’s role as faithful witness and strong love.
If you wish to know more about marriage, or if you wish to be married at Church of the Epiphany, please speak with the clergy.
The sacrament of healing, sometimes called unction, is available for those who wish to know God’s healing love. In this sacrament we do not teach that one’s medical or other problems will be removed, like magic. Rather, we affirm that God’s love itself is healing, and that we can be healed (that is, a whole person, at peace) in the embrace of God. In the rites of healing, a priest anoints a person with blessed oil and prays.
It is our belief that all of us, in some way, need healing. For that reason, the sacrament is available to anyone, at any time. That said, it can be especially meaningful to someone who is physically or mentally ill. Plase contact the clergy if you wish to receive this sacrament. They are happy to visit people in their homes or in hospitals.
The sacrament of reconciliation is often called “confession.” A priest listens to a person confess sins, especially the sins that are burdensome. The priest then pronounces God’s forgiveness, encouraging one to move on with a renewed commitment to live in joy. It can be very liberating to name things out loud and then to hear that one is forgiven, that God loves us even (or especially) when we fall short.
The seal of the confession is absolute, and a priest is forbidden from ever disclosing the contents of a confession. Please speak with one of our priests to arrange an appointment or to learn more.
Holy Orders, or ordination, is the sacrament in which particular people are called out of communities to live as ministers in the church. Bishops, priests, and deacons, by their lives of service and devotion, model the service and devotion to which all Christians are called.
In our understanding, all Christians are called to be ministers, as members of a “royal priesthood.” However, certain people are called to particular ministries as deacons, priests, and bishops. Deacons are icons of the Gospel, bringing the church into the world, and bringing the needs of the world into the church. Priests are sacramental leaders, presiding at liturgies, pronoucing God’s pardon, and blessing in God’s name. Bishops are guardians of the faith, and pastors to the pastors.
If you would like to learn more about ordained ministry, or if you believe you might be called to one of the orders of ministry, please speak with our clergy.