The Power of Sacraments

by Jane GardnerJane Gardner

Look especially to the sacraments to enrich the spiritual
life of the body

(Doctrine and Covenants
158:11c)

    We are so blessed in the Community of Christ to celebrate
eight sacraments. These sacraments connect our personal journey, our community,
and God in very tangible ways. Here are some of my own transformative
experiences.

Baptism

    She was determined to be baptized on her eighth birthday,
even though it was in the middle of the summer reunion at the campgrounds. She
wanted to be baptized in the camp pool. So, the camp staff planned a lovely
service.  Unfortunately, it was the MOST
Baptism - Blakesleymiserable week of rainy and cold weather in memory. The family camp was
relegated to indoor activities in  very tight quarters.  Canceling the baptism was discussed, but the
girl was adamant – she was ready to be baptized.  Nothing was going to stop her. The rain
poured down even as the girl changed into a baptism dress.  Campers gathered under umbrellas near the
pool.  As she made her way from her cabin
to the pool, the rain diminished.  By the
time she reached the pool, it had stopped.
As she stepped into the waters of baptism, the clouds parted and the sun
was visible for the first time that week.
The girl was baptized and the congregation gathered around her to offer
support and love. As soon as the sacrament concluded, the rain resumed and the
sun was not in residence for the rest of the week.  To this day, the girl testifies that God
affirmed her decision to be baptized by causing the sun to shine!

Communion

    As a fairly new elder, I received a call one day from a
single mother in our congregation.  She
and her Communion - Blakesleydaughter wanted to have the Lord’s Supper.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  Was it OK to serve communion ‘on
demand’?  I called the pastaor to talk
over the situation. We decided it was the right thing to do and scheduled a
time at the church that afternoon.  We purposefully
prepared the emblems and an order of  worship.
When the mother and her adolescent daughter came to the church, we greeted
them and offered support.  Then we
entered into worship – just the four of us.
As the bread was blessed and served, we all became aware of a powerful
spirit of love.  With tears in their
eyes, the mother and daughter drank the grape juice.  We all experienced powerful reminders of the
body of Christ broken for us. We never knew what the impetus was for the
mother’s initial call, but as ministers, we were aware of the generosity of God
to break in on everyday lives, with everyday elements like bread and grape
juice, and provide grace and blessing to those who ask.

Laying on of Hands for the Sick

    When we moved into the congregation, the presiding elder was
in his seventies and just trying to keep the doors open for weekly worship
services.  It was apparent that the
people of the congregation appreciated him as a wise elder and loving
pastor.  We learned so much from him and
continue to be grateful for his mentoring and patience.  As the years progressed, he had to enter a
nursing care facility, and our family made regular visits to his room.  On one occasion, he asked for
administration.  Administration - Blakesley

    As we anointed him and prayed, I was overcome with the
strong sense that this was the last time we would be with him. The words of the
prayer became requests for freedom from pain and release from
disabilities.  The administration
affected me in such a strong physical way, that as we left his room, I had to
lean on my husband for support.  When my
husband and I discussed the administration, we found that we both had experienced
similar feelings.  Our friend and former
pastor died during that night – a blessed release and an affirmation of God’s
love.

These sacrament experiences shape us, individually and in
community. Isn’t it amazing how such ordinary and common things can become
meaningful symbols and rituals with the power to make such a difference in our
lives?

Jane M. Gardner was set apart
as the president of the Quorum of High Priests at the 2007 World Conference and
serves as a member of the World Church Leadership Council. She also has primary
responsibility for Temple Strategies (along with
David Brock) and serves as a worship specialist for the denomination. Currently
Jane is also providing leadership for production of the denomination’s next
hymnal.


What’s Your Perspective?:
What are your powerful experiences with sacraments?

2 thoughts on “The Power of Sacraments

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