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Sacraments of the Community of Christ
The Bible teaches us that baptism is necessary for us to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Baptism is a covenant entered into between the individual and God. It is an expression of our faith and trust in God. For us, baptism means that we are baptized into the Community of Christ and become members of that particular fellowship. Baptism also signifies commitment to the universal task of Christianity to which the contributions of other Christians are acknowledged and appreciated.
The Bible teaches faith and repentance are prerequisites to baptism:
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." - Mark 16:16
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." - Acts 2:38
Belief and repentance require a conscious, deliberate state. An infant cannot have such faith, nor repent (see "Blessing of Children" below). As such, the Community of Christ requires that persons reach the "age of accountability" before becoming baptized. This became identified as at least eight years of age as early as the spring of 1831. The term "age of accountability" means more than a minimum age for baptism; it also suggests that we are accountable to God for our decisions, our resources, our whole lives.
In the Community of Christ, we baptize by immersion in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Emerging from the water symbolizes resurrection and the rising to a new life, thus "born again". Jesus Christ was not baptized as an infant. He made a deliberate choice to enter into the waters of baptism. As disciples of Christ, we follow the example He set for us when He was baptized in the River Jordon by John the Baptist:
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordon unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him." - Matthew 3:13-15
"And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordon." - Mark 1:9
"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened..." - Luke 3:21
And then, after His resurrection, Jesus instructed His disciples to:
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." - Matthew 28:19
otherwise known as baptism of the Spirit, follows baptism by water and completes
a person's initiation into the church. The only prerequisite for the rite of
confirmation is that a person is baptized into the Community of Christ.
Confirmation sometimes occurs immediately following baptism in the same service
of worship; other times several days or weeks elapse between baptism and
Confirmation is administered by the laying on of hands. The candidate sits in a chair and two elders lay their hands on the candidate's head, one offering the prayer of confirmation. There are no prescribed words that must be included in the prayer of confirmation.
John the Baptist referred to this baptism of the Spirit as the baptism of the Holy Ghost:
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire..." - Matthew 3:11
"I indeed have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." - Mark 1:8
In the Book of Acts, Jesus Christ refers to this second baptism, the baptism of the Spirit:
"For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." - Acts 1:5
And in John, Jesus again refers to a baptism of the spirit in conjunction with baptism by water:
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" - John 3:3-5
The Lord's Supper (Communion):
The Lord's Supper is the most frequently and widely observed of the sacraments in the Community of Christ. Usually celebrated on the first Sunday of each month, it is unique among the sacraments in that each member participates directly on a repeated basis rather than only once in a lifetime as with baptism, confirmation, blessing and the evangelist's blessing. All of the Gospels in the New Testament relate the event of the Lord's Supper, and His instructions to us to repeat this sacrament often in remembrance of Him.
Blessing of Children:
Blessing is seen as an "interim" rite for the benefit of persons who are not yet old enough to be baptized. Children from birth to the eighth birthday are eligible for blessing. Normally children of members of the church are brought for blessing some time during the first six months after birth. It is not unusual, however, for older children to be blessed. As followers and disciples of Christ, we follow the example He set for us when He blessed (not baptized) the little children, as found in the Holy Bible:
"Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence." - Matthew 19:13-15
"... Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them."
- Mark 10:14-16
The sacrament of ordination is the procedure by which "calls" to specific ministries in the church are both recognized and accepted in the lives of individuals. It is the rite by which certain ecclesiastical privileges and responsibilities are conferred. Ordination grants the authority to perform certain duties. This authority is given to the individual by God and also by the church.
Although God's call is primary in the ordination process in the Community of Christ, the individual's own sense of call is also important. Some persons accept the call to be ordained only after they feel personal assurance that God has indeed called them. Others accept as a result of faith in the process by which calls originate or out of a sincere desire to serve. Examples of the sacrament of priesthood ordination can be found in the Bible:
"And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sickness, and to cast out devils..." - Mark 3:14-15
"And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." - Acts 14:23
"Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity." - I Timothy 2:7
The church believes that marriage is a sacred institution ordained by God from the beginning, and also recognizes that marriage is subject to legal provisions established by various nations and states. This aspect of marriage makes it unique among the church's sacraments. Marriages within the church should be solemnized in public meeting of some kind. This usually occurs in the context of a service of worship. Marriages within the church are to be performed by members of the Melchisedec priesthood or by Aaronic priests. The church also recognizes the marriages of persons who choose to be married by authorities outside the church. This may be by civil authorities or ministers of other faiths.
The Evangelist's Blessing:
The evangelists blessing is an occasion of worship in which persons come to the evangelist of their choice to receive the laying on of hands. It is usually given to persons who are 15 years of age and older at their request. The evangelists blessing is intended to provide lifelong guidance and support. A typed copy of the blessing is provided so that the recipient can refer to it when in need of strength and guidance. Blessings are referred to numerous times throughout both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
Administration to the Sick:
The sacrament of administration is available to members and nonmembers alike. A person who is physically ill, emotionally strained, or sick in any other way may request administration. The purpose of administration is to provide assurance of God's care and concern and also of the church's interest in that person. It is also to seek a blessing and alleviation of fear and pain. Administration is usually done in the privacy of the church, a person's home, office, or hospital room. On occasion, however, administration may be performed while other persons are present or even as part of a formal service of worship. The Elders of the church perform the sacrament of administration by anointing with consecrated oil and offering a prayer unto God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, as found in the Book of James in the Bible:
"Is any sick among you? 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." - James 5:14
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