A few years after my husband of 28 years passed on, I realized that although I loved my work, my church, and the expanded sense of family I’d found, a deepening sense of loneliness had started to cast shadows on everything I was doing. I knew something radical needed to be done, so I decided to recommit myself to feeling God’s oneness in my life.
At the time, I didn’t relate this to the concept of sacrament, but in retrospect, that’s what it was. A deeper sense of sacrament, which may not seem to have much relevance in our daily lives, is actually what got me through that very low chapter. Allow me to explain.
First, a bit of history. Through the years, many have come to see the concept of sacrament as a religious rite that symbolizes one’s commitment to God. For instance, the sacrament of the Eucharist, or communion, reminds us of the intimate last supper Jesus had with his dearly loved disciples before his crucifixion, where he invited them to unite with the substance – the “body” and “blood” – of his healing mission to save humanity from mistakes, sickness, and even death.
Churches of Christ, Scientist, worldwide hold a Communion service twice a year. Like all Christian Science services, it includes music, prayer, and topical readings from the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. But unique to these Communion services, toward the end of the hour congregants bend on their knees together in silent prayer, followed by praying aloud the Lord’s Prayer. There are no material symbols or rituals.
To me this prayer provides a quiet, simple, reverent moment of renewed commitment to the demands made upon Jesus’ followers. It’s an opportunity to feel more deeply the presence of our Father-Mother God, who loves us and cares for our every need, at every moment. A chapter in Science and Health called “Atonement and Eucharist” explains: “Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God. Our bread, ‘which cometh down from heaven,’ is Truth. Our cup is the cross. Our wine the inspiration of Love, the draught our Master drank and commended to his followers” (p. 35).
As I felt that growing loneliness in the pit of my stomach, I realized I was hungry for that spiritual communion – and I knew I didn’t need to wait for a biannual reminder of the healing, purifying power of Christ, divine Truth, in order to find lasting comfort. So I prayed to feel more closely divine Love’s, God’s, presence from the time I woke up in the morning to when I turned off my lamp at night. I wanted to feel aware of God’s allness when driving, working, running errands, or eating another solitary dinner.
One aspect of this is being willing to obey what God is asking of us each day: to reflect divine Love in all we do. I kept Jesus’ words at the forefront of my thought: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17), and that was a good and happy thing.
I also needed to get a clearer understanding of my true identity as spiritual, as the expression of God, who is Spirit and eternal Life – not as a mortal stuck in an unfortunate set of human circumstances. And I needed to become more aware of others’ true nature as spiritually innocent and good, too. This silences nagging self-pitying thoughts, criticism, selfishness, self-righteousness, worries, fears, and regrets that hinder progress, and enables us to gratefully magnify God’s goodness.
This prayerful consecration was more than an exercise, a ritual, or a symbol. It truly was a daily practice of sacrament – eating of the bread of Truth and drinking in the wine of spiritual understanding, inspiration, and love. My prayers shifted from asking God for help to actively acknowledging God’s tender and powerful presence. I began to consistently feel a joyful, peaceful communing with the Divine.
With this expanded sense of sacrament, my life adjusted. I found that God was tangibly, specifically, and beautifully meeting my needs, including emotional ones.
Sacrament is relevant – each and every day. It comforts, satisfies, and heals us.