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Family as sacrament

by Mark Etling on January 30, 2014

We know that the Church defines sacrament as a moment of encounter with Christ at special moments in life – baptism, reconciliation, Eucharist, etc.

The Church defines seven formal sacraments.

But there’s another, broader way of looking at sacraments. For believers, every moment of every day can be a sacrament, a moment of encounter with Christ. So what does this mean for families? It means that every moment is an opportunity to make Christ’s presence in the world more real – by being respectful to each other, by forgiving each other, by being kind, by keeping quiet rather than lashing out, by being helpful rather than hurtful, by celebrating each other’s successes, by sharing each other’s sorrows – and on and on. Every moment of every day can be a sacramental moment – if we choose to make it so.

One more thing –

God is waiting for us, depending on us, to make his/her presence known in the world. God does not swoop down from the sky and say, “Here I am!” God’s merciful love is present in the world only when we make it visible. What a beautiful gift we’ve been given! And what an awesome responsibility we have!

2 thoughts on “Family as sacrament

  1. I love how inexperienced Theologians love to sprinkle in a little heresy to prove their point. e.g.,”God is waiting for us, depending on us.” Heresy: Placing God in time. God has no dependence on us. I apprecaite what you want to say, yet a secular person may say it one way, but a Ph.D. in Historical Theology carries with it a whole definitive teaching. If you want to be known as a “Dr.” watch you language, people depend on you as the “Mouth of God.”
    A position though unintended, yet attained.
    I would love to speak with you sometime about your beginnig, your journey so far, and your perceived goal.
    “God does not swoop down from the sky…” Yet that may be precisely what Jesus Christ may do at the Second Coming.
    Before you speak, think and recall for Historical Theology is built with human building Blocks called Historical Moments.
    “History builds on and draws from itself.”

    1. My comment about God “waiting for us, depending on us” is based, first of all, on the ethical eschatology of Jesus, as explained by John Dominic Crossan. Crossan says – and I agree with him – that Jesus’ message of resistance to the Romans, his Reign of God movement, contained within it two implications: first, that the movement would be nonviolent, because the God Jesus believed in is nonviolent; second, that God would not swoop down from the heavens to usher in his reign, as the group Crossan calls “apocalyptic eschatologists” held. Rather, God was waiting for his people to make his Reign a reality on earth.

      My comment also reflects one of the operative Jewish concepts of God that was extant at the time of Jesus, rather than the Hellenistic God of Plotinus and other Neoplatonists from the third century on.

      Finally, my comment is reflective of incarnational theology – the belief that God did indeed pitch his tent among us – in time and space.

      I stand behind my comment as it was posted. I believe it’s completely orthodox. I welcome more dialogue with anyone who wishes to weigh in.


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