illustrates the sacrament of Baptism as interpreted
within the doctrines of different Christian churches.
Since the second century the term eucharist has
been used as the rite that represents the heart of Christian
worship. This rite was founded in the last supper of
Jesus. Eucharist comes from the Greek word
Eucharistia (meaning thanksgiving) and refers to the
Jewish prayer before eating or drinking in which the
Jews blessed or thanked God by recalling and
acknowledging what God had done for His people.
Jesus would have used such a prayer himself at the last
supper. This practice evolved into the Eucharistic prayer
of later Christian rites.
Other names used within many Christian faith
groups for the eucharist are communion, Eucharistic
sacrifice, or love feast. Although the Eucharistic rite may
take several forms, the use of bread and wine is common
to most Christian churches. The bread may be leaven
or unleaven and the wine can be in the form of wine,
grape juice, or water.
The different Christian faith
groups will use a variety of methods for serving the
eucharist. Figure 1-6 illustrates some of the different
forms of the Eucharistic rite.
The subject of the eucharist is unquestionably one
of the most sensitive issues of Christian faith. Some
faith groups observe the eucharist at every worship
To many Christians, the Eucharistic rite in
effect transforms the bread and wine into the body and
blood of Christ through the action of the chaplain,
ordained clergy, or priest. To other Christians, the
purpose of eating the bread and drinking the wine is
symbolic of a thankful remembrance of Christs death.
The Reformation rejected the notion that Christ was in
the eucharist and rejected the idea of transformation.
Instead, Reformers held the view that Christ was present
only to the worthy communicant through the reception
of the elements. All agreed that there could be no
celebration of the eucharist unless a substantial number
of the congregation received communion with the
Today, some churches are trying to restore the
eucharist to the place it had in early Christian practice,
as the central service of the church every Sunday, and
as a corporate celebration by the congregation rather
than merely an opportunity for individuals to receive
communion. Whatever form the ritual of the eucharist
takes, you must treat both the subject and the acts of
eucharist and communion as sacred and worthy of high
In the following paragraphs, we will talk about
weddings and funerals. To many Christians, weddings
and funerals are considered to be sacraments or holy
rites. In addition to birth, baptism, and entry into
adulthood, weddings and funerals are central to the
Christian life cycle. Lets take a brief look at each of
these important events.
When a Christian man and woman agree to live
together permanently, to become husband and wife and
have a family, their agreement is called a marriage. In
Christianity, as in most religions, marriage also involves
a religious ceremony known as a wedding. The
Christian marriage ceremony is performed by a
chaplain, clergy, minister, or priest and takes place in an
RMF, church, or chapel.
Many Christian faith groups consider marriage to
be a sacrament and do not allow divorce.
Christians consider marriage to be holy because St. Paul
compared the relationship between a husband and wife
to the relation between Jesus and the Church.
The marriage of one man to one woman is called
monogamy. All Christian marriages are monogamous.
If a man marries more than one woman, or a woman
marries more than one man, it is a polygamous marriage.
Although the Mormons, under Brigham Young,
permitted polygamy, this practice has never been
widespread in America because of the religious and
social customs forbidding it.
An important purpose of Christian marriage is the
family, wherein children are loved, sheltered, and
educated in a Christian way. This means that the family
is the foundation of Christian society.
In the United States, no one may be married against
his or her will. Typically, a woman has to be 18 years
old and a man 21 years old before they may marry. If
they are younger, they must have the consent of their
parents. Each state has its own marrage laws, but most
states require the following legal conditions:
1. There must be one or more witnesses to the