... of Inward, Invisible Grace.
This is how Aquinas defines sacraments. I have read more sacramental theology than most sacramentalists, and could run rings round the average Roman Catholic on official RC teaching on this subject. I like to think I am probably one of the better informed ordinance theologians around. But, as my more sacramental friends know, I am always up for being convinced otherwise.
Yeserday's sermon included my postulate that love is actually the supreme sacrament - the ultimate visible sign of invisible grace, and that there must be (as a minimum) a set of nine sacraments on this basis as listed in Galatians 5 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
The problem for those who associate 'sacrament' with 'ritual' or more specifically 'ritual correctly performed' is that in one sense all of these nine are invisible - you can't bottle love or procure a slice of gentleness of whatever. Yet these are the biblically defined outward manifestations of the outworking of grace in the lives of believers wrought by the Holy Spirit.
I should probably note, that an ordinance theology of Baptism and Communion is not, as some claim, a cavalier or casual one; I view these rites as seriously (if not seriously, in some cases) as my more sacramental friends. I would not even dispute that God's grace may be experienced in and through them, but I refute any notion of 'special grace' or 'guaranteed grace' ritually achieved, since this is totally contrary to idea of a Spirit that, like wind, 'blows where it will'. Grace is grace; it has no 'flavours'; it has no ritually defined bounds; it is witnessed in its outworking... the fruit of God's transformative Spirit, and nowhere more clearly than in love.
Small wonder, then that the great commands are as they are... Love God, love your neighbour, love yourself.