Worship > Sacraments

SACRAMENTS

Sacraments are visible, tangible signs of an inner, spiritual reality. The Episcopal Church recognizes two principle Sacraments, Baptism and Eucharist, because they were instituted by Jesus himself, and five other Sacramental Rites, which are similarly holy, yet not necessarily experienced by all people. Here is a bit of information about how we experience the Sacraments at Transfiguration.

Baptism is the mystical rite of initiation into the Church. Christians have two dominant metaphors to understand baptism: tomb and womb. When we are immersed in the holy waters of baptism, we are buried with Christ in his death and enabled to share in his resurrection, or understood differently, in baptism we enter the holy womb out of which we are reborn to new life. Both metaphors point toward the same reality: new beginning. In baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and begin our journey of following Jesus Christ as Lord.

At Transfiguration, we follow ancient custom and perform baptisms on the major feast days (holiest occasions) of the Church year. We baptize infants, children, and adults, and we take seriously the need to thoroughly prepare before receiving this grace-soaked Sacrament. Read our Baptismal Customary for more information about our baptismal preparation and expectations, and email Ellen Dingwall at edingwall@transfiguration.net to register yourself or your child for baptism.

On his final night of mortal life, Jesus shared a sacred meal with his closest friends and followers. He broke a loaf of bread and passed around a cup of wine and told them that they were his body and blood – that he was sharing himself with them – and then he encouraged them to keep sharing this meal in the future as a way to remember and experience him. We’re still sharing that meal today.

In the Eucharist (Mass, Communion, Lord’s Supper), we not only remember Jesus’ saving life, death, and resurrection, we also experience his presence in our midst afresh. He offers himself as spiritual food and drink to nourish and sustain us, and it renews us with peace and forgiveness and strength to carry on. Our act of Eucharist (a word that comes from a Greek word meaning Thanksgiving) is holy and sublime, and for many it is the centerpiece of their week.

If you would like to learn more about the Holy Eucharist, check out this Instructed Eucharist, which includes narration of the various elements of the service. When you join us for a Eucharist, all baptized Christians, regardless of church affiliation, are invited to share in it, and that goes for children, too. We offer First Informed Communion instruction for children in grade 3, and a member of the clergy will gladly meet with anyone who desires to know more before receiving. Make an appointment here.

The Episcopal Church urges all its baptized members to make a mature public affirmation of their baptismal promises, and since the earliest centuries of the Church, this happens in the presence of a bishop, who “confirms” their faith. Though often seen as a rite of passage for teenagers, in truth Confirmation is appropriate for people at any stage of life who are ready to make this important   affirmation. Candidates for youth confirmation share in a year-long process of preparation, and adult candidates participate in The Way, our extensive catechumenate (teaching and formation) program, that is offered in the Fall and Spring.

Some people come to The Episcopal Church from other Christian traditions and have already experienced Confirmation, so they are “Received” by the bishop into our church. This action of “being confirmed” or “received” into the Episcopal Church demonstrates that your membership is not merely of this local parish but of the entire Christian Church of which the Bishop is representative.

Youth seeking Confirmation should speak with Colin Hills, Director of Youth Ministries, at chills@transfiguration.net. Adults seeking Confirmation or Reception into the Episcopal Church should speak with Fr. Michael Merriman at mmerriman@transfiguration.net.

It is Jean Valjean in the Broadway adaptation of Les Miserables who famously sings, “to love another person is to see the face of God.” The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, or marriage, is a life-long union of two people who vow to be loving, sacrificial companions to each other, and through so doing, reveal God to each other. Their life together is a sign of Christ’s love to a sinful and broken world, and through their unity, forgiveness, and joy, they reflect to each other and all they meet the nature of the heart of God.

For those ready to embark on the journey of marriage, the exchange of sacred vows and receiving of a nuptial blessing sets you upon a firm foundation. We would be honored to speak with you about marriage at Transfiguration, and encourage you to review our Marriage Customary for more detailed information about our practices and expectations. Contact Meghan Mazur at mmazur@transfiguration.net to schedule an appointment with Fr. Casey, if you are ready to begin the process of marriage preparation and set a date.

Unction is the “rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God’s grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, or body” (from The Book of Common Prayer, p 861). We believe in the healing power of science and medicine, but we also believe that restoration to full health is a spiritual and emotional, as well as physical, matter, and the Holy Spirit of God is the ultimate healer. We offer unction and laying on of hands at our Wednesday (6:00 p.m.), Thursday (Noon), and Saturday (5:30) services, as well as by appointment with a member of the clergy.

In addition, we have several teams of intercessors who pray for people in need of God’s presence and power each week. If you would like to add someone to the prayer list, please email Deacon Liz O’Donnell at lodonnell@transfiguration.net.

During his earthly life, it was not only Jesus’ miraculous power that astounded and transformed people, but also his willingness to forgive sins, including the sins of people his society considered beyond redemption. Forgiveness is central to Jesus’ identity, and our experience of his merciful forgiveness is central to how he saves and heals us.

In our nearly all of our worship services, just before we share communion we confess our sins. After a time of reflective silence, the whole congregation shares in a confession: “We confess that we have sinned,” we say together, acknowledging that we have not always loved God with our whole heart or our neighbors as ourselves. It is our humble request for forgiveness, which God then grants freely.

However, it is often the case that confessing our sins more privately, and specifying with intention the things we have done that have taken us further away from God, can be a deeply cathartic experience. We can only repent from, that is, genuinely turn away from, things of which we are consciously, thoughtfully aware. And when we say those things aloud in the presence of a priest, it not only helps us empty ourselves of our guilt, but it also allows us to hear directly and personally that God forgives us.

All people are invited to share in this holy rite, and you may make an appointment with any priest on staff to hear your private confession.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ assures us of God’s power over death and desire to be with us forever. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can have confidence that we, too, will be raised. He is our shepherd, and like sheep responding to his voice, he will lead us out of the grave and into the green pastures of eternal life in his presence.

It is a privilege to walk with someone to their resting place and accompany them with our prayers. We trust that God’s will and purposes are fulfilled beyond the grave, and that God is able to draw them ever closer to his own heart. The service of burial is our participation in that movement from death to life, for it is when we offer over to God someone we know and love and terribly miss, trusting in God’s ultimate mercy and goodness.

At Transfiguration, we conduct burial services for members and those who have a special relationship with the church. We also have a beautiful columbarium in our Memorial Garden, where some choose to make their final resting place. For information about acquiring a niche in the Columbarium, please contact Christopher Thomas at cthomas@transfiguration.net. You may download a copy of “Decisions: Not Just Between God and Me,” created by the Transfiguration Endowment, which contains many helpful documents to make future funeral and estate planning much easier.

Please contact our office at 972-233-1898 if someone in your life has died, or is in the process of dying, so we can serve you in this difficult time.