Anointing of the sick is not counted as a sacrament of the gospel, meaning not ordained by Jesus. However the command and instructions are given by James the brother of Jesus in James 5:14-15.
Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
As my church does not hold Ash Wednesday services, my wife and I often attend Roman Catholic mass on that day. The last time we went, the priest began his sermon (not homily, this guy likes to preach!) by telling us how popular Ash Wednesday services have become. His phone had been ringing all week, from all sorts of people calling to find out service times. Some asked if they could just swing by his office and get ash on their forehead. He told them “No,” and that they would have to participate in the whole service in order to receive ash at the end. He said that Ash Wednesday services were already more well attended than Christmas, and, if the trend continued, would even surpass Easter. Despite his striking statistics, he had something even more powerful and convicting to say next. Continue reading The Sacraments as Means of Grace part 5: Reconciliation→
This post will get me labeled as a heretic from both the Protestants and Roman Catholics. I want us to consider that all of us may regularly overlook a true sacrament of the gospel, and in the 2000 years of Christianity, I am not the first person to bring this up. John Wesley makes the case in Sermon 98 that if we normally consider the ordinances and means of grace to be equivalent terms, then we must consider another act. John Wesley called it “visiting the sick,” but I will define it more broadly as acts of mercy. Continue reading The Sacraments as Means of Grace part 8: Acts of Mercy→
Everyone has pivotal moments in life that transform them, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. Some of these moments are God’s means of grace, where we may either be empowered by and towards God (2 Kings 2:9-15), or taken to a new level of hardness (Exodus 8:32; 9:12). Although not all are sacraments, I recall: accepting Jesus as my savior during a Vacation Bible School, my baptism, my 3rd grade teacher moving me to the 4th grade reading group, the first time I was aware of racism toward me, when a camp counselor encouraged me because he knew I didn’t need to rededicate my life to Christ, the first time a teen introduced me as his youth pastor, the death of a friend, when I told my father about my call to ministry, when I realized I could succeed in college, my wedding, the birth of my daughter, my ordination, and graduation from seminary, (I intentionally left out of that list events that moved me in a negative direction.) as one-time events which left a lasting impact. Continue reading The Sacraments as Means of Grace part 4: Ordination→
While visiting friends over a weekend, I attended church service with their family, and baptisms happened to be occurring that morning. Among the family I sat with was a six-year-old girl, who had not recalled seeing a baptism previously. “What is he doing?” she asked her grandmother, who replied that the man was being baptized. Shocked, the little girl exclaimed, “Doesn’t he know that he’s supposed to take a bath at home?!” Although there are many other differences between a bath and a baptism, private versus public is a big difference. Continue reading The Sacraments as Means of Grace part 2: Baptism→
The Wesleyan Church recognizes two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, as I delved into our Anglican roots (John Wesley remained an Anglican priest until he died, despite founding the Methodist tradition), I found some acceptance of the other five, but they are “not counted as a sacrament of the gospel,” meaning not ordained by Jesus nor necessary for salvation, but still a part of Christian tradition. In fact, as I have looked at the remaining five sacraments/practices (please use whichever term that would cause you least offense) most churches practice them, sometimes by other names, even though they might not call them “sacraments.” Thus, I would hope we could at least agree that God can use these events as means of grace.
When I met the woman who would become my wife, I found that she, having grown up in a household with a Roman Catholic father and Lutheran mother, had a different view of the sacraments, including whether or not they should be called “sacraments” or “ordinances,” than I did, as a person who grew up Baptist. When asked if marriage is a sacrament, my wife usually responds, “My marriage is a sacrament. I can’t speak for yours.” I agree with her, and by that I mean not just the ceremony, but our marriage. Having recently officiated a marriage, and gearing up for another, I stand in awe of the mystery of Christ and the Church, which human marriage reflects (Ephesians 5:32). Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast (Matthew 22:2-14) and we look forward to the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). My marriage has certainly enhanced my relationship with God, and how I act toward my wife, how she acts toward me, and how we work together are all reflection of the spiritual reality of Christ and the Church. Continue reading The Sacraments as Means of Grace part 3: Marriage→
A high school student I knew had recently placed faith in Jesus Christ as his savior, and in addition to attending youth group and Sunday church himself, began bringing his younger brother (very Andrew and Simon like (John 1:41)). The second time the younger brother came to church happened to be the first Sunday of the month, when we served the Lord’s Table, and I noticed that he took and consumed the bread and juice, just as everyone else.
After church, as we hung out in my living room, I said this to him. “You’re not in trouble or anything, but I was just wondering something. At church, when they passed around the bread and juice, did you understand what that meant or were you just following what everyone else did?” He replied that he just thought that’s what he was supposed to do, so I asked him if he would like to know what it meant, and he did want to know. Continue reading The Sacraments as Means of Grace part 1: The Lord’s Supper→
I have debated for almost as long as I have been writing this blog whether or not I should comment on the Post Secret movement. I have decided to go ahead and make this post, but not link to any Post Secret material because sometimes the “secrets” contain material that would be inappropriate for some people.