Thursday, August 24, 2006

Towards a More Whole Sacramentalism

I’ve begun my Liturgics I class by listening to the initial lectures of Dr. Dan Dunlap. An aside from him is making me think.

Dr. Dunlap states (and I think I understand him correctly) that the Fathers did not think much in terms of Seven Sacraments or the like but instead saw the whole Divine Service as sacramental. Augustine thought this way and would probably see, say, the Apostle’s Creed as sacramental.

And I think I’ve been thinking this way as well. I just didn’t know it.

For example, after receiving the Body and Blood at my parish, as I’m kneeling back in my pew, I often watch others take communion. To me, their taking communion is part of us feeding at His table. And their presence is part of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. God uses them along with the bread and wine to bring his presence to me.

And even the creed – it means a lot to me to stand and say “I believe” as the church does around the world and through history.

In fact, back in my Presbyterian days, I remember saying the creed one morning in the balcony at Blacknall Presbyterian. And as I did, people passed through the vision of my mind saying the creed, people from all places and walks of life. And I was moved.

Yes, it was a youthful “Hey, it’s not just about me” moment. But now more than ever, I sense that I’m saying the creed with the whole church in every place and time.

Or music. I’ve written here how much good English church music can affect me. (And I'm listening to Vespers from Kings again as I type this. And, yes, I have to pause once or twice.) I haven’t thought much about how music can be sacramental. But the best Anglican music seems to bring Heaven down to me as much as any official sacrament.

I will surely think* more about this. But I would heartily agree a more whole sacramentalism goes beyond any designated list of sacraments.

*and read? Any suggestions?

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