Christians believe that Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, was and is the Son of God. The story of his life, death and resurrection is told in the four Gospels in the Bible, in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Christian Church is the community of Jesus’ followers who attempt to live their lives according to his teaching. Christians express their love for God in worship and prayer. They express their love for their neighbours by caring for them and helping them to know and experience God’s love through Jesus.
We believe that God’s help and grace are available to us through the Sacraments. A Sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. The principal Sacraments are those which were instituted by Christ himself, Baptism and Holy Communion.
In Baptism, we receive the gift of spiritual birth into Christ’s way of life. The water symbolises the water of the womb. It also represents God’s sustaining love for us, in the same way that water is essential for physical survival. And as a symbol of washing, it represents God’s forgiveness for all that is contrary to love in human nature. The oil represents the way in which God fills and surrounds us with his Holy Spirit. The robe of baptism and the lighted candle represent the way of life that Christians should try to live, as followers of Christ the True Light.
Our union with Christ, which commenced at Baptism, is sustained and renewed in Holy Communion. It is also called the Eucharist, which means Thanksgiving. Jesus instituted the Sacrament on the night before he died on the Cross. He instructed his followers to take bread and wine, bless them, break the bread and share the bread and wine. We repeat his words “This is my body” and “This is my Blood”. From the earliest times, Christians have celebrated Holy Communion on the day of the Resurrection, the first day of the week. We believe in the real presence of Christ in this Holy Sacrament. The obvious symbolism is of being fed. In the Bible, the perfect Kingdom of God is pictured as a Heavenly Banquet. The Eucharist is a foretaste of the celebration that we believe we will have with God after death. It is also a sign that the Kingdom of God, or Heaven, has already started to be a reality in this life. The Eucharist is a celebration of thanksgiving for God’s love that we see in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is also re-dedication of ourselves to the new life which we entered at Baptism.
Communicant members of all churches are welcome to receive the Sacrament. If you do not normally do so, we hope you will come forward for a blessing as sign of inclusion in God’s love. Please carry a book so that we know you want a blessing.