Sacraments as a Special Example ofContemporization

What role do the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist play in the con-temporization of the past? Initially, one notices that only a few baptismal and Communion hymns explicitly include aspects of time. We find only a meager basis for the notion that something happens to time in the celebration of the sacraments. Take the following ritual words of praise, for example:

We praise you that this child now shares the freedom Christ can give, has died to sin with Christ, and now with Christ is raised to live.149

These words do not mean to imply that the now (the moment they are spoken) is simultaneous with the death and resurrection of Jesus, which were documented as a historically unique occurrence in the Gospels. Participation in this event is certainly occurring now, but the hymn does not reflect upon how the time between the then of that event and the now of the baptismal ceremony is bridged.

A baptismal hymn translated from English into Swedish suggests the notion that Baptism entails a universal simultaneity with the past:

Med Noa, raddad ur sin ark fran stormigt hav till varlig mark, med Mose, lyft ur floden opp, vi firar fest med nyfott hopp.150

This stanza of a baptismal hymn originally in Norwegian is also similar:

Over tidens granser lever alltjamt dina loftesord vid dopets vatten. Dopets ljus forblir nar livet slocknar.151

In this hymn, however, one is dealing with the future instead of the past. The sacramental event breaks through the boundary, toward the future, more than it moves backward, between present and past.

One also finds the same outlook in some of the Communion hymns. In the meal that is praised in song as a mystery, the bread that we break makes us one with Christ, the brother who died for us on Golgotha; the wine that we share unites us with God; the meal of the reign of Heaven gives us joy and hope for facing tomorrow, certain of the faithfulness of Christ, who once promised to return.152 Here, one is not dealing with the simultaneity of a salvation experience in the past, but rather with the arrival of Christ/God in the present, in order to create the anticipation of a redemptive future. An even clearer orientation toward the future is found in the previously mentioned Communion hymn by Jonson.153 It deals with the threatened hope of humanity, which, in the bread of the Lord's Supper, receives a sign of the future, by virtue of which the peace that is still to come can be realized.154

On the other hand, the notion of a universal simultaneity is suggested in the lines:

Du som med livets brod gar genom tid och rum, giv oss for varje dag, Kristus det brodet.155

We find one of the rare, explicit examples of contemporizing the past in a Communion hymn in Sv ps 392. It speaks of an altar ready laid on which the bread rests, as Jesus himself once rested in Bethlehem:

Här krubban är—jag faller ned, tillbeder . . . O, sakrament, som oss i nad bereder att Gud, den evige, pa jorden se.156

In conclusion, there is another clear but unique example of the sacramental power of the Lord's Supper that influences time:

Inga avstand mer, ej främlingskap, och tiden genomträngd av Guds "i dag," med Abraham är du och jag kamrat. Gud är en av oss vid detta bord.157

Here, more than contemporization is at stake. Later, we will discuss this more as the permeation of time by something that is qualitatively different.

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