The sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are practiced in the Wesleyan tradition because of God’s “prevenient grace,” i.e, God’s saving grace that precedes, goes ahead of us, reaches out to us and gives us new life. Both sacraments are biblically based and were given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer in the river Jordan at the beginning of his ministry, and the Church has always regarded the sacrament as central to salvation. In the Methodist tradition, the sacrament of baptism is usually, but not always, done by sprinkling water on the head of the person being baptized. Most often baptism is given to an infant, who later in life, usually adolescence, goes through the process of Confirmation, in which the vows that others made on behalf of the infant are confirmed, made real in one’s personal commitment, by the youth. Baptism is also practiced in our tradition for youth and adults by pouring water on the head of the person or by full immersion.
Holy Communion was instituted by our Lord on the last night of his life, and the words he used as he gave bread and wine to his disciples, ”Take and eat…drink this…every time you do this, do it in remembrance of me…” are central to the liturgy of the Sacrament. However, it is about much more than remembrance. It is about grace, the real presence of God in the bread and wine, about forgiveness of sin and new life offered.
These realities of grace, forgiveness and new life are amazingly given to us in life’s simplest elements—water, bread, wine.