Celebrating the Sacraments

Anglican Catholic Future invited me to lead a workshop on the theme of ‘Celebrating the Sacraments’ at their 2014 Festival, Life Abundant, held in Southwark Cathedral on 13 September. The topic lies close to the heart of the catholic identity of the Church of England, and it might have provoked one of several responses. Celebrating the sacraments could mean performing them, but I did not want to take that line – thinking about the nuts and bolts of how the sacraments can be celebrated well – since it could easily become overly critical and overly clerical. Alternatively, I might simply have outlined an account of the theology of the sacraments, but since I had already done that, in Why Sacraments?,[1] and since some of the participants had already read that book, that would not have been a good use of people’s time.

The approach I took, instead, was to think about celebrating the sacraments in the sense of rejoicing in them. For convenience, I suggested that we approach the question of how to celebrate or rejoice in the sacraments from three angles: as individuals, as congregations among ourselves and then, finally, as congregations turned outwards, celebrating the gift of the sacraments with people around us.

We discussed the standard seven sacraments, so central to the faith and practice of the church both West and East,[2] and also the idea of entering into the idea of sacramentality itself. That produced a four-by-eight chart and, in the hope that it may be of interest for some other parishes, chaplaincies or other Christian communities, as they think about the sacramental life of the church, I reproduce it here, with gratitude to participants at the workshops for the suggestions they added.


If you have comments to make about the chart, and suggestions of additions, please contribute me at apd31@cam.ac.uk. I would be please to hear if it has been useful in your local setting.

The Revd Dr Andrew Davison
Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge
Fellow in Theology, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

[1] London: SPCK, 2013; Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2013.
[2] I justify attention to all seven from an Anglican perspective in Why Sacraments?, chapter six: ‘How Many?’.

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Celebrating the Sacraments

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