The Sacraments – What they are, and what is Dayspring’s practice.
A Sacrament is a sacred Christian rite, but that doesn’t tell us much, nor does it tell us why we should care, other than someone says they are ‘holy’. We should care, because in this modern 21st Century we are in danger of losing the very commitments that give us spiritual integrity. Without spiritual integrity we are a just a people doing what we think is right in our own eyes, and God cautions us about this! We should care about what God cares about, for that is one way we show that we believe in Him. Another way is to obey what He says! Protestants generally agree on two Sacraments for the Church, while Catholics observe seven. At Dayspring we observe three officially and one other as a matter of normal spiritual life:
Baptism- we follow Jesus, as an obedience, in waters of baptism, for the remission of sin, and the opportunity to make a declaration of faith. We usually do full immersion baptism, but we are not dogmatic about it and if sprinkling is necessary we’re agreeable. The point is the confession and declaration of faith in Jesus Christ. We have no formal times of the year to do baptisms, waiting for the candidate to ask. A short class is required to make sure the candidate knows what the Sacrament is, but membership in Dayspring is not required. Since our building has no baptistery we do baptisms wherever we can, and it is always a celebration!
Communion (The Lord’s Supper, or, The Eucharist) – We follow Jesus, as an obedience, in remembering Him through Communion. Our custom is to do so on the first Sunday of every month, and on special occasions during the year. We serve an “open” Communion, meaning that everyone is welcome to partake and let their own conscience be the determinant. We do not require Confirmation as a qualification for Communion. (see Confirmation below) We do not debate the literal or symbolic nature of the bread and the cup and prefer to allow God’s Holy Spirit to have His way with each communicant. We recognize the Priesthood of the Believer to celebrate Communion as often as desired, and doing so in one’s home is appropriate.
Marriage- We believe marriage is a Sacrament. It is Sacred. It is Holy. We believe Christian marriage can only be between a man and a woman, to the Glory of God.
Anointing the sick- the Sacrament that used to be called Extreme Unction- this is the Catholic Sacrament that we consider a matter of normal spiritual life. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Healer, and that praying for the sick should be a normal Christian practice, by all believers, for any and all who ask. The distinction is that part of the practice of anointing and praying for one who is sick included those who were near death, whether conscious at the time or not. Dayspring’s position is that we should pray for any, and all, for physical healing and spiritual healing, whenever called upon to do so, or moved upon by the Holy Spirit to do so.
Confirmation- a Catholic Sacrament we Protestants do not generally recognize as a Sacrament because it originally meant the believer’s reception of the Holy Spirit. We Protestants refer to this as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and encourage every believer to ask and receive. It is sad that this has become a point of division within the Church, and we should not be the judge of who receives and who does not. In some churches, Confirmation is the process of education one must complete before being allowed to receive the Sacrament of Communion, usually not allowed until age 11 (varies).
Penance- a Catholic Sacrament we Protestants do not practice. Without focusing on points of division let’s just say that the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin and we don’t have to do anything or pay anything to improve upon that. Repentance happens within the heart, and is proclaimed again at Baptism.
Holy Orders- some Protestant denominations have a form of this Sacrament, but we at Dayspring do not, as an official Sacrament. In the larger, more formal and denominational churches, and in the Catholic Church, there are Offices of Bishop, Priest, and Diaconate. A hierarchy, if you will, of the leadership, including specific qualifications more detailed than those in the Bible. The formality of this liturgical practice varies widely, but those who practice it as a Sacrament are very official. Our position is no less serious, but not recognized as a Sacrament to be practiced, but rather a normal part of Church life and discipline.