I believe it was St. Augutine who said that the Sacraments are visible signs of invisible grace; or to put it in modern terms, they are outward signs of what God is doing inwardly. The bread and wine we share in communion, food that nourishes our bodies, are representations of the grace of God’s communion which nourishes and strengthens our souls with the real presence of Christ. The water used in baptism is a representation of the cleansing and renewal of our spirit by the Holy Spirit of God. Sacraments – visible signs of God’s invisible grace.
I think God works like that a lot. Jesus spoke in parables, giving us pictures that we can relate to (sower and seeds, the prodigal son, good samaritan, etc) to teach about the mind blowing grace of God that our understanding can never completly comprehend.
These sacraments (visible signs of invisible grace) are all around us. Yes, there are only two sacraments that we in the reformed faith adhere to, Baptism and Communion; these are the two that were authorized by Christ. These are the sacraments where God has promised to meet us.
But God meets us in daily life – in smaller sacraments – reminding us daily of His grace. I see these sacraments, most notably now, in my children. Let me tell you how…
Last week I was home on a Wednesday night with my oldest (7 yrs) and my youngest (10 months). My oldest was sick with strep – really not feeling well at all. The youngest was a typical 10 month old – hungry, stinky, and loud. I was feeding the baby, strained squash and carrots – a wonderful combination – when the phone rang. It was a call that I really needed to take – so there I was talking on the phone, feeding the baby, while the oldest was moaning that she didn’t feel good.
I don’t multi-task, my wife will tell you that, so the baby wasn’t getting fed as quickly as he wanted. In between each bite, he would voice his protest that I wasn’t moving fast enough, shouting at the top of his lungs. I’d get 3 seconds of silence following each bite, long enough to listen to what my caller had to say.
That’s when it hit me, my children are representations of my own relationship with God. There are times when I am impatient with God, times when I stubbornly refuse to listen and obey, times when I just need to rest in His arms, be fed by His hands, washed in His love. I read somewhere that God intentionally brings peopel who are hard to love into our lives, just to show us how much He loves us, and how we are to love others. This is one of the greatest gifts my children give, they remind me that I, too, am a child of God, loved by Him, and growing in His grace.
The church may not recognize my children as sacraments, but I know that I see in them a reminder of God’s grace in my life every day.