The Sacrament of Stewardship

Kate Holbrook makes the following comments in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Winter 2010):

Both Edwin and Carrol Firmage develop an exciting concept of sacrament in their essays (in an earlier Dialogue), a contribution that I want to explore and highlight.  Since Peter Lombard formally defined them in the 12th century, the seven official sacraments of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have incclued baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction (ministration to the critically ill), order, and matrimony.  Protestants since the sixteenth century generally recognize only two official sacraments:  baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  However, the notion of sacrament is often expanded to include bringing a sense of divine grace, divine communion, and covenant to more experiences than those listed in the formal sacraments, for example writing about the “sacrament of the the present moment.”

A key aspect of even expanded notions of sacrament is covenant with the divine.  Both Firmages propose expanding participation in scrament even further.  They implicitly suggest that the aspects of grace and community that attend sacraments can be enought to overcome theological differences.  Edwin Firmage states:  “Sacraments not only connect people to God but people to people.”  “It is in the nature of a sacrament to focus eternity in the present moment . . .  In such a community, day-to-day decisions–like how we build our homes, how we raise our food, how we get about, are sacramental decisions, because they impinge on eternity.

Against biblical precedent (and so many current spiritual practices defy that precedent), the Firmages propose a sacrament inclusive enough for those who covenant with God to enjoy a realm of belonging with those who covenant to principle instead of Deity.  As Carrol Firmage writes, “To work the land is a sacrament of continuity and caring that links past, present, and future.”  Maybe the sacrament of the garden is a place where believer and nonbeliever find common cause and common bond.  In such a place, the grace is not just what believers receive from their redeemer, but what idealists working together extend to one another.

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