Community of the Savior affirms the centrality of the sacraments in the life of the believer. In the sacraments, God unfailingly conveys the gift of divine life. This life-transforming grace bears fruit in all who receive the sacraments with a humble disposition of receptive faith. Affirming that the sacraments are means given by Christ through which we receive God’s grace, Community of the Savior seeks to nurture a vibrant sacramental life.
Central to the sacramental life of Community of the Savior are Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, the sacraments of the Gospel. These are the two great sacraments given by Christ to the Church. In Baptism, the people of God are incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church. In Holy Communion, they are nourished and sustained in the life of faith. In addition, many who participate in the life of Community of the Savior recognize the sacramental character of other rites that evolved in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These additional sacramental rites include confirmation, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, ordination, and holy matrimony. Though not necessary for all people in the same way as Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, Community of the Savior affirms the grace-conveying activity of God through these sacramental rites and seeks to incorporate them as fully as possible in the sacramental life of the congregation.
Holy Baptism is the sacrament of God’s welcome into the covenant community of new life in Christ. In Baptism, God imparts transforming grace and incorporates the baptized into the Body of Christ, the Church. Richly laden with meaning, Baptism is a covenant initiated by God and embraced by faith. As the sacrament of new birth in Christ, Baptism marks the beginning of the life of discipleship.
Who may be baptized
Because we believe that all persons stand in need of God’s saving grace, and because Baptism is God’s invitation and incorporation into a new life in Christ, we offer Baptism to all who themselves, or through the efficacy of others, respond in faith to God’s invitation. Infants, very young children, and others who are not able to speak for themselves are brought to Baptism by parents or sponsors, who along with the church community, promise to encourage and nurture them in their journey of faith. Older children and adults who have not yet received Baptism come to Baptism in response to the proclamation of the Gospel and their conversion to Christ. Those who renew their faith in Christ, having already received the Sacrament of Baptism earlier in their lives, are not re-baptized. Rather, the Church recognizes their valid Baptism, along with their renewed profession of faith, and welcomes them through a joy-filled liturgy for the re-affirmation of baptismal promises.
Preparation for Baptism
Infants and Young Children: All who come to Baptism participate in baptismal preparation offered by the Church. First-time parents and sponsors of infants and younger children must meet with a pastor to discuss the significance of the Sacrament of Baptism and the responsibilities of Christian parents as the child’s first teachers in the ways of faith. Participation in a briefer refresher conversation is expected for successive children in the same family. In order to accommodate the needs of family members and guests, Baptism of infants and younger children takes place at various times throughout the year, often on special Sundays in the Christian calendar.
Older Children and Adults: Baptismal preparation for older children and adults is traditionally known as the catechumenate. The goal of this period of baptismal preparation at Community of the Savior is to bring one’s conversion and faith to deepening maturity. It seeks to guide, instruct, and enfold seekers and new believers into the life of faith, the liturgy, and the community of the people of God. Though this process may vary in length depending on a person’s prior formation and background, it normally concludes with a final phase of preparation during the Lenten season and culminates with the Sacrament of Baptism at the Easter Vigil.
We affirm that Holy Communion is a true and faithful channel of God’s grace. It is the central means through which God makes available the gifts of forgiveness and nourishment for the continued spiritual growth of all who receive it with true contrition and receptive faith. As the mystery of God’s own self-giving love, the Eucharist is beyond human capacity to comprehend fully. Nevertheless, with the historic Church, Community of the Savior affirms that the Eucharist is both the effective sign and the gracious provision of God for the believer’s participation in the life of God. Through the Sacrament of Holy Communion, believers are nurtured and sustained in their faith and bound together in unity as the People of God. The Eucharist is a meal of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us in the saving work of Christ. It is a meal in which we experience fellowship with Christ, the members of our congregation, and the Church throughout the world. It is a meal through which the sacrifice of Christ is re-presented (made truly present, but not repeated) in such a way that we not only recall Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross, but also truly receive the gift of his real presence.
Who is invited
Community of the Savior invites to the Lord’s Table all who love Christ, repent of sin, and seek to live in love as disciples of the Lord Jesus. The invitation to the Lord’s Table comes from Christ himself. When we respond to our Lord’s invitation, we affirm and strengthen our relationship with God through Christ and our commitment to serve Christ in the mission of God in the world.
Because Holy Baptism is the sacrament of incorporation into the People of God, it has historically preceded partaking of Holy Communion. Community of the Savior upholds this as the normative practice of the Church. However, Community of the Savior also recognizes that some who have not yet had the opportunity for Baptism may be able to respond faithfully to Christ’s invitation, and that others may even be drawn by the Spirit to a relationship with Christ during the Eucharistic celebration. Such persons may receive Holy Communion but are asked to contact one of our pastors as soon as possible for counsel and instruction about their journey of faith, the teachings of the Church, and the opportunity receive God’s gracious gift of Baptism. Any who have reservations or questions about receiving Communion are also encouraged to speak to a pastor, who will gladly provide counsel based on the teachings and practices of the Church.
Children and Communion
The Journey toward Communion: As members of the covenant community through Baptism, children are participants in the sacramental life of the congregation. Infants and younger children develop a sense of trust and belonging as they come to the Lord’s Table, embraced by their parents, for a prayer of blessing. As children grow and develop, they participate in incrementally fuller ways. They begin to recognize something of the mystery, reverence, joy, gift, and acceptance that the People of God experience in the Eucharist. This leads to increasing interest and awe, and elicits questions about the very special part of the Sunday liturgy. At Community of the Savior, the initial and budding sense of wonder is reinforced and nurtured through age-appropriate children’s catechesis designed to prepare them for their first full reception of Holy Communion.
First Communion: Since full participation in Holy Communion is a significant step in one’s discipleship and participation in the life of Christ’s Church, Community the Savior celebrates a child’s first communion with a special Sunday liturgy that includes an appropriate recognition from the gathered assembly. Community of the Savior believes it is the privilege and responsibility of parents, through mutual conversation that includes the child, the pastor(s), and others who have participated in the child’s faith formation, to discern when a child is ready to receive the bread and the cup. Community of the Savior recognizes that the ages of children who are ready to receive first communion may vary, but in all cases, participation in Holy Communion should be accompanied by catechesis appropriate to the age of the communicant. Parents are encouraged to speak with one of the pastors to initiate the process of preparing their children for full participation in the Lord’s Supper.