Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rethinking Community and the Sacraments

From St. Louis-

Have you ever read something that was so striking that you can literally remember where you were sitting and what was going on around you when you first read it, even after many years have passed? A few years ago, my spiritual director recommended a book called Reconciliation: Preparing for Confession in the Episcopal Church by Martin L. Smith. I remember taking a tea break in the cafeteria one afternoon, book in hand, thinking I could just plow through the reading and finish the assignment.

Then I got to the following passage:

“We cannot under any circumstances baptize ourselves. Someone who is baptized has to baptize me. There is always community involved. Reconciliation with God cannot leave me in my solitude, with my individuality and autonomy unaffected, as if my relationship with him were a purely private affair. God’s act of reconciliation in Christ established a reconciling community of the reconciled—the church.”

The words hit me with such force that I got a little light-headed and I felt tears slip down my cheeks. I remember feeling that I had to sit very still and close my eyes, as if the world might simply fall away around me if I weren’t very careful to hold on tight. I believe I was, to borrow a phrase from my evangelical friends, convicted.

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