The Sacraments of Baptism and Communion
Sacraments are ritual actions in worship which, according to Scripture, were instituted by Jesus. In the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion we ask the Holy Spirit to use water, bread, and grape juice to make visible the grace, forgiveness, and presence of God in Christ.
The Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism marks a person’s acceptance into the care of Christ’s church, and the beginning of their Christian journey of faith. It is a personal celebration in the lives of the individual candidates and their families. It is also a celebration within the congregation as well as a time to affirm its covenant to provide a place where the one baptized and their family will be supported and nurtured in the Christian faith. For this reason, baptism is celebrated in the presence of the community gathered for worship.
We find it deeply meaningful that the water used for baptisms at East Church is made up of waters which have been brought with love from places where members of our parish have felt especially connected to something sacred, something holy. Such places included Connecticut, Germany, Pennsylvania, France, New York City, Cleveland, London, Iowa, Colorado’s Blue River, Nantasket Beach, Michigan, Penobscott Bay, Ka Wai a Ha’o (a fresh water spring next to historic Kawaiaha’o Church, on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii), a well in Menemsha on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Popham Beach, Bermuda, the island of St. Johns in the Caribbean, and even from as far away as Machu Picchu, Wolfgang’s Lake in Austria, the Indian Ocean near Durban, South Africa, and the River Jordan! These precious offerings are blessed, sterilized, and mixed together the baptismal font.
At East Church, we practice both infant and adult baptisms and arrangements are made with the Pastor in both cases. We welcome sponsors or godparents, though they are not required. We recognize baptisms from other faith traditions, so there is no need to be re-baptized when you join the church.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Also known as The Lord’s Supper, the observance of Communion recalls the table fellowship Jesus shared with his disciples, and in particular the Last Supper on the night before his death. During Communion, we hear, taste, touch and receive the grace of God. In the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup, we not only recall Jesus, but also know that the Christ is present in the moment.
Communion is usually celebrated on the first Sunday of the month. Children are welcome at the table at the discretion of their parents. Communion is sometimes served by the Deacons who bring the bread and cup to the congregation in the pews. Other times we observe Communion by intinction: those in the congregation leave the pews and come forward to the table, take a piece of bread, dip it in a chalice of juice and eat.
East Church is committed to inclusiveness. Because of that, our Communion elements consist of unfermented grape juice and gluten-free bread so that no one need experience a barrier to paricipation.
At East Church, the table is open to all who are present at worship. Our Invitation to the Communion Table clarifies why we celebrate the sacrament of Communion, and who is invited to participate:
We come to this table not because we must, but because we may.
We come not because we are strong, but because we are weak.
We come not because we have perfect faith, but because we have questions and even doubts,
But we come nonetheless because Jesus invites us to come and we will never be turned away.