On the day of Pentecost, Peter offers the promise of baptism without regard to age, saying it is for those present, their children, and those far away (Acts 2:38-41). Later in Acts, we read of Paul and Silas baptizing Lydia and her household, and later their jailer with his entire family (Acts 16).
We continue this practice by baptizing the children of those who reaffirm their baptismal vows, receiving them into God’s mighty acts of salvation.
A section of The United Methodist Book of Worship called “Ministry Immediately Following Death” (BOW 167) offers prayers to use with family and friends gathered at the time of death. The prayers acknowledge feelings of loss and grief, request God’s strength in these difficult days, and proclaim our hope in resurrection and life everlasting through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A funeral or memorial service is held soon after death. The purpose of these services of death and resurrection is “to praise God and to witness to our faith as we celebrate the life” of one who has died (from "Greeting" of A Service of Death and Resurrection).
The Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of worship resources with Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church, explains that the service “is the opportunity for the community gathering in response to the death of the person, to proclaim our solidarity with each other through this time of grief." But more importantly, he continues, “to proclaim our faith in the resurrection of the dead and the hope of new creation, promised by Christ.”
Christian marriage is not a sacrament in The United Methodist Church, but those who choose to marry enter into “a sacred covenant reflecting the Baptismal Covenant” (The United Methodist Book of Worship 115), and more specifically “a sacred covenant reflecting Christ’s covenant with the church” (The United Methodist Hymnal 864).
Baptism is our initiation into God’s covenant with us through Christ and marks the beginning of a lifetime of growing as followers of Jesus. In Christian marriage, that covenant is reaffirmed.
“The marriage vows specify how the couple will live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the context of their relationship with each other,” explains the Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of worship resources with Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.
In Christian marriage, the bride and groom “enter into union with each other through the grace of Jesus Christ, who calls [them] into union with himself as acknowledged in [their] baptism” (from the “Declaration of Intention” of A Service of Christian Marriage).
“The term Holy Communion invites us to focus on the self-giving of the Holy God which makes the sacrament an occasion of grace, and on the holiness of our communion with God and one another,” This Holy Mystery continues.
Finally, “Eucharist, from the Greek word for thanksgiving, reminds us that the sacrament is thanksgiving to God for the gifts of creation and salvation.”
The Services of Word and Table in the front of The United Methodist Hymnal lead us in celebrating the fullness of the sacrament.
Let Hickory United Methodist Church take care of your next religious occasion.