Grace is a gift given by God that opens the door for us to again become one with God.
When God created each of us, He left a divine imprint upon us, regardless of whether we recognize it or not. In our pursuit of happiness, contentment in life, or satisfaction in our relationship, God’s presence (known among United Methodists as “prevenient grace”) nudges us back to God.
Once we realize that any right we have to stand before God comes from the love Jesus showed us by dying for our sins, and not by our own actions (also called “justifying grace”), everything in this world ceases to have power over us. As believers, we know that everything we do is in response to this grand gift by a generous God.
United Methodists call this response “sanctifying grace,” or more simply put, it is the process of becoming (with God’s help through the Holy Spirit) the person God intended one to be at the moment of creation. We believe that this process is a life-long, joy-filled adventure with God that ultimately allows the believers to attain the seemingly impossible – perfect love in this lifetime and the fullness of God in the life to come.
We believe that Holy Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper, is a miracle of God’s love. It is a reenactment of Jesus’ last meal on earth in which we celebrate with God, the giving and receiving of a great gift. God shares Christ with those who believe Jesus is Lord and Savior, and we share our lives with God.
In the United Methodist tradition, Holy Communion is a holy mystery in which a meal of bread and grape juice becomes a sacred moment in which Christians, at the direction of Christ, remember and receive the power God gives us to change from who we are to who God wants us to be. Such change can only happen with God’s help.
We celebrate an “open table” during Holy Communion, which means that on our side, everyone is welcome to come before God as long as your head is bowed down honestly promising to stop doing the things that disgrace God. On God’s side, we receive God’s promise to forgive us everything we have done wrong and provide us with the help of the Holy Spirit to fulfill our promises and live our lives joyfully in God’s presence.
We believe that Baptism is a sacred encounter with God in which God washes the sin from our hearts and souls and welcomes us into the family of believers. God then asks for a thankful response born out of love for what God has done, rather than out of a sense of obligation.
Baptism is a Sacrament received and initiated by Christ, as a public announcement that the baptized individual is entering into an agreement with God about how they will live in love for the rest of their life. Believers fulfill their promise by steering their daily conduct, helped by God’s Holy Spirit, away from the things that disgrace God. They also receive God’s forgiveness and the power God grants us to forgive others.
In the United Methodist tradition, we believe that because it is God’s power and grace at work in baptism, and not ours alone, we are able to accept people of all ages (including infants) for baptism. We trust that the presence and grace of the Holy Spirit will meet people wherever they are in their understanding of God and move them closer to living the life God expects them to live.
United Methodists typically sprinkle or pour water over one’s head to conduct the actual baptism, although occasionally we may be found “down by the riverside” for an immersion experience.