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1 Corinthians 10: 16

Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?

Of course, Paul’s topic here is we call the Lord’s Supper. It is also widely known as “Communion”. Though the word Communion does not appear in the Bible, it is widely practiced and accepted amongst most Christian groups. In fact, it is valued as possibly the highest sacrament. 

The word sacrament is defined in the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms as “an outward sign instituted by God to convey an inward or spiritual grace.” It is a rite or ritual that Christians participate in which is meant to be an external acknowledgement of what God is doing and has done in our spirits. There is wide disparity over the sacraments. Catholics identify seven sacraments while most protestant churches only recognize two. Other Christian faiths abandon the practice of sacraments wholly.   

Thomas á Kempis wrote in the Imitation of Christ that “in this Sacrament spiritual grace is conferred, the soul’s strength is replenished, and the recipient’s mind is fortified and strength is given to the body debilitated by sin.” For Kempis the sacraments, especially communion, are not just outward signs but something spiritual.  Some people feel that in the receiving of communion they experience Christ more than at any other time. Drawing deeper on Kempis we can see that the keeping of the sacraments were important to him because within them the spirit, soul mind and even body are benefited.

While my writing and thoughts are not on par with Thomas á Kempis I would like to offer a thought. If the rites and rituals of the Christian faith are meant to be events which stir our spirits and confer blessing on our minds, souls and even bodies then I wish to suggest that reading the Bible and meditating therein is the most powerful of all Christian activity. At least I find that my greatest connection with the Divine Trinity occurs over the Word.  

Some people find their greatest connection with Christ over the Word while others find their expression of Christian faith more easily in the sacraments. Those, like Kempis, who honor the keeping of the sacraments, would never suggest that they are meant to replace the Word. However, I do find that some of the church is divided on this point. Were I to suggest that we not observe any of the Holy Rites, especially Communion and Baptism, some people’s skin would peel right off of them. Nonetheless, I have seen whole congregations who give a high place to the sacraments but largely ignore the Word of God. This is not as it should be. 

We may observe the sacraments as fits us for there is a denomination at every level of sacramental observance. That is good. The Christian church does not have to be one size fits all. However, a church, a congregation or a believer without a steady diet of God’s word is one which can be led astray. Further, without the feeding on the word, that believer, congregation or even whole denomination will die. Practice seven sacraments if that suits you. Participate in daily communion if you like, but follow this piece of advice: forsake not the Word of God.

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