I am so thankful to be a part of the sacramental tradition. When I say sacramental, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, I am referring to the great Christian tradition that embraces the full use of the mysteries of the faith including regular celebration of Holy Eucharist, confession, the creeds, ancient liturgies, beautiful architecture, art and more.
I didn't grow up in a sacramental church. My earliest experiences of the Christian faith were in charismatic and evangelical churches, which helped give me a bible-based, passionate faith. I thank God for that foundation (and I will share more about that in months to come). But that foundation wasn't enough for me to grow into the spiritual maturity that I longed for. Here are a couple of the ways that the sacramental tradition helped me grow in my faith:
A Theology of Creation The regular celebration of Christ present in the bread and wine helped lead me on a journey to embrace Christ's presence in the created order. If Jesus is with us in the Eucharist, then He could also be with us in a beautiful piece of art, a beautiful church, or the presence of a friend. The sacramental tradition helped me embrace God's presence in the created order.
Healing through Confession Confession gets a bad wrap these days. It is often caricatured as self-flagellation, groveling or worse yet, low-self esteem (gasp!). But my experience is the exact opposite. As I have become more vulnerable in public confession weekly, and in private confession with trusted clergy, I have both felt the shame of bringing my sin into someone else's presence, and also the profound freedom of hearing the promises of God spoken over me personally. It has brought great healing to my past.
Continuity with Christian History For much of my spiritual life I suffered from spiritual amnesia. I could only remember and embrace the last couple of decades of Christian history. I thought the rest was a degenerating of the pure faith of the Apostles. The only problem with this view was that is was based in assumption, rather than actually spending time with the saints of the past and their writings. The more I have become familiar with people like Justin Martyr, Gregory the Great, Francis of Assisi, and John of the Cross, the more I realized that God has been at work throughout history, and I would be wise to embrace all the ways that He has worked! When we utilize ancient worship forms like liturgy, we are acknowledging that God has given us beautiful ways to worship Him across the centuries.
These are just a few of the ways that the Sacramental tradition has helped me grow in recent years. I invite you to join me on these ancient paths that have faithful transfer the faith across thousands of years and cultures. Until next time.
Author: Cameron Lemons
Reflections from the pastor