Sacraments

Sacraments: “The outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace*.” Book of Common Prayer, page 857

The two great Sacraments of the Gospel, given by Christ to his Church, are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

Holy Baptism

Holy Baptism is the Sacrament by which one becomes a Christian. It’s an event of importance and celebration both for the individual and for the whole church. Therefore, we celebrate Holy Baptism in the context of community worship. This Sacrament is offered at St. James on at least four occasions throughout the year: the first Sunday after the Epiphany (also known as the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, Jesus Christ), Easter (usually at the Easter Vigil on the Saturday evening before Easter), Pentecost Sunday, and All Saints’ Sunday (the first Sunday after November 1). When the number of persons seeking the Sacrament of Holy Baptism exceeds a comfortable range for our physical space, other dates may be scheduled. Emergency Holy Baptism is always available.

Those seeking baptism for their child must be members of St. James, and must attend a preparatory class. Call the parish office at 978-388-0030, to find out when the next class will be offered.

Adults contemplating baptism are usually required to attend a Newcomers Class. This series is conducted two or three times a year. Call the parish office at 978-388-0030, to find out when the next class will be offered.

Holy Eucharist

Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament in which, faithful to Christ’s memory and commandment, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in consecrated Bread and Wine for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, whereby we are empowered for the work of witness and service in Christ’s name.

All baptized persons or those persons who are seeking a relationship with God are welcome to receive Holy Communion at St. James Church. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated on Sundays at 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m. only during the summer months) and at other scheduled services.

Can my child receive communion?

Our baptismal liturgy makes it clear that a Baptized person is a full member of the household of God. They are fully welcomed into the community. No baptized person can be denied Holy Communion, whatever his or her age.

The responsibility for deciding when a child shall make his/her first Communion rests with the parents and the child. Parents are, however, invited to contact the presiding Reverend to discuss the decision.

Generally, very young children (those carried by parents) enjoy coming to the altar with parents and are not necessarily interested in sharing in the consecrated bread and wine. However, there comes a point when children want to be included. They watch the adults around them and often mimic their behavior in hopes of being allowed to share in the meal. This is when parents are invited to make a choice for their children.

Even at a very young age children can understand that the meal we share at the altar is something different from the snack they had at the end of Church school. The way that the adults around them approach the altar, the way the consecrated bread looks, the special cup from which we drink the consecrated wine, all help to give the children clues that this is something special or even holy.

It is also very possible for a young child to understand that at church we come to worship God, hear God’s word, pray to God, and we are literally fed by God. As the child grows s/he will come to know that we participate in this feast because of Christ’s blood that was shed for us, and his body that was given for us, as a sacrifice for our sins. As the Apostle Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians. 11:26)

Helping the child to receive the Sacrament is important. With very young children, a parent may want to receive the wafer, break it in half, dip it in the chalice, and give it to his/her child. When a child can imitate his/her parent, s/he can receive the wafer himself/herself, drink from the chalice or dip in the cup. It may be wise for small children to stand rather than to kneel. Parents should not hesitate to speak quietly to their children at the altar rail, giving them gentle instructions on the spot. If you do not want your child to receive, feel free to tell the server at the rail. A blessing from the priest will be offered.

Whether or not a child receives Communion, we want to insure that all children feel welcome in our community, acknowledged as people, known and loved. The priest will not refuse to give Communion to a child. On the other hand, should parents decide that the answer is no, your priest will respect that decision.

We invite parents and all adults to join in making this parish one in which children feel at home – a place where they can truly come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Other Sacramental Rites
Other Sacramental Rites which evolved in the Church include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction. Although they are means of grace, they are not necessary for all people.

*Grace: Grace is God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved;
by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts,
and strengthens our wills.