What Do We Mean By Sacramental?
The words we use don’t necessarily remain static, i.e. meaning is ascribed and tends to be fluid. So, when we use a word like Sacramental, it may mean something slightly different depending on the hearer. When we use the word Sacramental we mean that as a community we experience God’s grace because of Jesus and His Incarnation; therefore, a sacrament is a physical thing, an object or an action, through which grace is transmitted. We believe that the sacraments of the Church impart the grace of God. The term Sacrament “refers to a mystery, the mystery of proclaiming salvation through sign-acts” (Webber, 229). A sacrament is a physical thing – an object or an action – through which grace is transmitted, “for people who adopt a sacramental way of being, everyday things, occurrences, and exchanges provide an opportunity to encounter [God]” (Dreher, 14).
There is a tendency to pull the Christian faith from the historical context which is has been rooted in for 2,000 and to strip away the signs and symbols that Christians have used throughout that time. This seems to be a denial of the fact that knowing God is more than an informational experience; yet modern gnostics persist in their removal of signs and symbols claiming that we have been freed from premodern forms of worship. We don’t seem to realize how deeply infected we are with the fallout from the Enlightenment and Modernism, neither of which was necessarily Christian.
In terms of praxis we use signs and symbols, e.g. we wear vestments, burn incense, and participate in the Eucharist. We seek to recapture the mystery and wonder of engaging in the worship of the Creator of all things. As C.S. Lewis stated “Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal…As spirits they belongs to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time.” We are the image of the invisible. Our relationship with God is not based on what you know, but who know. We believe information is just that apart from revelation. We seek to join the worship of heaven and join with the worship of the Church Triumphant, which stretches across space and time. When the people of God come together and enter into worship we truly become the body of Christ, “whether they have to drive fifteen miles or walk a few blocks, a sacramental act is already taking place” (Schmemann, 27).
We also believe that the historic creeds of the undivided church provide a clear summary of the Christian faith, which is why we may recite one of the Creeds as a community. By returning to the Creeds of the early Church we find a source of unity for faith and practice today. In this way we seek unity over the closed-hand issues that stretch like roots back to the early Christians whose mighty river has fed the countless streams and tributaries of the faith. We seek to avoid disunity over open-hand issues.