Reflection on Sacraments (or whatever you call them) in Your Tradition

The scenario: You receive an e-mail from the pastor of a church in your state (of which denominational tradition you will need to decide). Someone in your congregation visited this pastor's church and was surprised by its communion liturgy (or perhaps the lack of one). This person made an offhand remark to the pastor after the service. Somehow the remark rubbed the pastor the wrong way. It may have misrepresented your church's practices or theology of communion; it may have represented the teachings of your denomination, with which your local church differs in some way; at any rate, it struck this pastor as problematic in some way. Besides the usual niceties (presented just a bit frostily) is a challenge that your church misunderstands the significance of communion (and even perhaps the whole sacramental or liturgical life, if communion is intinsically tied to the whole).

Write a reply to this pastor explaining and/or defending your church's communion practice and its relevance to its overall vision of the Christian faith and life. Include whatever specific details make this a concrete rather than abstract example (that pastor's tradition and theology, your local church's, your denomination's, and so on). Since you are communicating with someone else who has technical training in ecclesiology, you will want to appeal to whatever documents connect or distinguish your churches' approaches. You will also want to communicate in such a way that your case will make sense from the pastor's particular perspective.

If you wish and if it has special bearing on your situation, you can substitute baptism for communion.

I mean this response to draw out the major ecclesiological themes that play a part in sacramental practice, to prepare you to communicate with leaders of other Christian traditions, and to think through the justification and/or problems of the way you administer the sacraments (or ordinances).

Please keep your paper 3-4 pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

(Back to Schedule)