God gives. We receive.
With God as the sole giver of life, there is no way to do, earn or give anything in order to receive anything in return.
God gives. We receive. And God loves.
God loves us even when we cannot love ourselves, our neighbor or even God. Call this giving of love, grace.
God’s gives grace by way of free gifts Christians call Sacraments, a theological word for God’s use of otherwise simple things like water and wine, bread and oil, caring hands and loving hearts, joined with God’s promise of unmerited and unrelenting love.
In a Sacrament God establishes new life by turning people away from self toward love of God and love of one another. This is true both for an individual and for community. While a Sacrament is an individual gift received by one person, a Sacrament is given and received in community.
In this way a Sacrament builds up both one and many: the love imparted in a Sacrament reconciles all people to God and to one another.
While there is no agreement among Christians on a list of what is rightly called “Sacrament” or the exact form of a “Sacrament,” the Church throughout time and space has generally held Baptism, along with Confession and Forgiveness which extends from Baptism, and the receiving of Christ’s self within community (or Communion) to be central means of God’s grace. The new life God establishes by these means extends into all of life, including Confirmation, Anointing of the sick, Marriage, Burial, and Ordination to public ministry in the church.
These theological words have been, and continue to be, the subject of much thought and conversation. Rightly so. If the wideness and depth of God’s grace could be captured by human language, it would lose what makes it so profound: God’s love is experienced, God’s love is lived.