A Sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace. Here at RCB, we celebrate two Sacraments – A Baptism & the Lord’s Supper. We do these as part of communal worship, but if there is a special circumstance, we offer a private ceremony.
Any person of any age may receive the sacrament of baptism, which involves a public profession of faith in Christ. In the case of infants and children, parents or guardians who have been baptized themselves make those vows on the children’s behalf.
In the symbolic cleansing of sin through water and the Holy Spirit, those who are baptized receive new life in Christ and become a part of Christ’s body—not specifically members of The Reformed Church or a particular denomination but part of the church universal.
At the same time, during the liturgy our congregation promises to love, encourage and support the baptized and their family. In this way, the baptized become, at least for time, part of The Reformed Church family. In the case of children, typically at least one of the parents or guardians must be a member of The Reformed Church of Bronxville.
One Sunday per month is reserved for baptisms, and several may be baptized at the same time. We usually sprinkle water on the forehead, but some may wish for more water to be applied. Since Paul taught that there is “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), we do not re-baptize, though we can arrange for a reaffirmation of faith.
All candidates for baptism and their families, if appropriate, are required to meet with a minister. For more information and to schedule a meeting, contact Executive Administrator Janice Sachtjen.
In Christian life, all roads lead to The Lord’s Table. As we celebrate communion, we are mysteriously joined with Christ and each other.
In the Reformed tradition, there are differing theological views of what happens during communion, which are different from other traditions. For example, the Swiss Reformer Huldrych Zwingli taught that the bread and wine are purely signs, or symbols. They aren’t the actual body and blood of Jesus. Therefore, communion is strictly a meal of remembrance.
Another reformer, John Calvin, also believed the elements are symbols, yet through our faith we spiritually feed on Jesus’ body and blood. In his view, the Holy Spirit binds us to Christ, and when we come together to celebrate communion, we mystically commune with him who has “ascended into heaven.” (You can hear this in our liturgy when we say, “we lift our hearts to the Lord.”)
For Calvin, this communion depends upon our faith. If we don’t have faith, we don’t commune with Christ, and the elements are simply a snack of bread and wine. However, even in times of doubt, or if we feel our faith flagging, that does not mean we don’t commune with Christ in the eucharist. One of the tenants of Reformed belief is “the perseverance of the saints,” meaning that the Holy Spirit continually works in us and binds us to Christ, even if we don’t feel like it’s happening.
The Reformed Church practices an open communion table: all who desire to commune with Christ are welcome to partake of the elements. Those who would prefer a blessing are welcome to come forward and a minister will pray for you. Parents can decide for themselves whether or not their children participate, but we encourage children to wait until they finish our fourth-grade About Baptism and Communion (“ABC”) class.