Saint Peter and Paul Parish Church, Borden

... a village church for all denominations

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Sacraments of the Church

Being firmly rooted in the catholic tradition of the Church of England, much of our worship is sacramentally based.  The Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as, "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof."  Put more simply, a sacrament uses simple, everyday materials (water, bread, wine, olive oil) to point us to a fuller understanding of God's love for us. Many Christians hold that there are only two sacraments (Baptism and the Eucharist) which have biblical authority, but close examination of Our Lord's words and actions seems to point to seven Christian sacraments.


The StoupBaptism may be described as the "entry level" sacrament because it provides the means whereby people become Christians.  In most cases, in the Church of England, people are baptised as babies or as very young children, with parents and godparents making promises on their behalf.  However, baptism is open to "children" of all ages, and it is becoming increasingly common for adults who have "missed out" during childhood to seek baptism at the same time as their own children.
Baptism is a sacrament which is particularly rich in symbolism.



For Christians marriage is much more than a social contract between two people.  It is seen as representing the marriage between Christ and his bride, The Church.  As such, marriage is indissoluble and life-long.  The preface to the marriage service says,
"No-one should enter into it lightly or selfishly but reverently and responsibly in the sight of Almighty God".
There is clearly much more to Christian marriage than "booking your church for my wedding" as one recent caller from New York put it!


UnctionUntil fairly recently it was the practice of the Church only to anoint people who were close to death in order to strengthen them for their final journey.  In recent time Christians have rediscovered James 5: 14 - 15; "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven".



EucharistThe Eucharrist, also known as Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, the Mass or the Sacred Mysteries, is the sacrament that is at the centre of our lives as Christians.  It is the sacrament that brings us into a direct relationship with Our Lord.  In many ways, it is the central sacrament, to which all the others lead, or from which they draw their meaning.


ConfirmationThis is perhaps the sacrament which is most difficult to understand.  It used to be the sacrament which gave people the right to receive the Eucharist, but an increasing number of churches now admit children to Communion before confirmation.  In the ancient Church people were admitted to communion after baptism.


ReconciliationThe Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is an area of Church life approached with great suspicion by some.  With some justification, many of those who have not experienced the benefits of this sacrament take the view that "Catholics go to confession on Saturdays to confess their sins, and then spend the rest of the week doing exactly the same all over again".



OrdinationWhen the risen Jesus appeared to His disciples in the upper room (John 20: 19), He breathed on them and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them for the ministry of spreading the good news of His resurrection and continuing the work of the Incarnation.  This is the origin of the sacrament of ordination.
Initially, the tiny Christian Church met in synagogues or in one another's homes and were taught by the apostles and celebrated the eucharist with them.