I received the book "Sacraments and Worship" by Maxwell E. Johnson to review from Westminister John Knox Press. This book was free and not given for me to give a good review but a personal views and opinions on this book.
Being someone who has grown up in the church I thought this would be interesting but stuff I knew. As well, being a historical buff, ie.. wanting to know the background to what we do and not just doing it from rote memory, I felt that this book would be intriguing.
I underestimated what I would LEARN from this book. The Sacraments are the ancient and a key part of what we do in church as acts of worship.
The book begins by working to explain the belief in Sacraments, ie.. it is not the ACT that saves or is magical but the WORD or symbolism behind the ACT that is saving or brings us closer to God and His Grace...
It sets out the 7 Sacraments of the church: "Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, ordination and Marriage."
We hear a lot about Baptism, and Marriage but what of those in between? Each in it's own right is a step to our better knowing, loving and growing in this amazing act of Worship to our heavenly Father.
Confirmation: The act of growing in our faith and knowledge about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Is this just Sunday Morning? Is this a class that you can check off? Or is this a continual, daily `dying', daily reading and daily absorbing more and more of what the word says about our gracious Father?
Eucharist: Is this a quarterly partaking of the elements? Or is it a learning, a reminder of His Painful Death and the amazing Grace he shared with us on the Cross? Do we approach it with rote acts of memory or do we make it special?
Penance: Is this a `catholic' thing which caused Martin Luther to his 99 thesis? Or is this another act of daily dying? Of daily `buffeting' of our body's in order to keep in accordance with God's will?
Extreme Unction: WHAT??? Being of Protestant background sort of explains my lack of knowing this one. Yet what about the "Anointing of the Sick" that is prescribed by the Apostles? How does that fit with this doctrine?
Ordination: We know and practice for our pastors
Marriage: A holy sacrament which is not magical in itself except that it portrays the Marriage of Christ and the Church.
So to sum it up: I learned MORE then I expected from history, scripture and tradition about what each of these means. For anyone interested in the WHY behind our act's of Sacraments and Worship you must read this book. It is detailed, historical and will take some time to dig into but it is a treasure trove of information!
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