One of the most powerful sacramental experiences I’ve experienced at Westwinds took place at Grand River Brewery. We held services during open hours for two years at Grand River, and though they were controversial, the price was worth the reward. Those services helped us minister to a significant number of new people.

At the back of the brewery, there is a semi-circular wine bar from which we often served communion. People would stand in line and I would serve them one by one, pouring a small glass of wine and presenting a small portion of bread, praying over them as they partook. Those were holy moments. But my paradigm changed when we decided to anoint people with oil. Inviting them to the wine bar, I explained that Christians had been anointing one another with oil since the earliest episodes in scripture. Sometimes this was to ask for healing. Sometimes for commission into ministry. Sometimes for consecration. I taught them a simple symbol I had seen in Christian catacombs, a circle with a cross in it, and when they came to receive prayer I dipped my thumbs in oil, held their hands, and traced that symbol across the back of their hands.

The combination of the backstory, the expectation, the prayer, the symbol, the oil, and the human contact was potent. We prayed for well over an hour, and when I looked up to see whether or not we’d be asked to leave on account of how late our service was running, I was shocked to realize our people had begun anointing one another.

That’s a sacrament—when what we say, and what we intend, and what we do align with the scripture in the power of the Spirit.

Adapted from Then. Now. Next.: A Biblical vision of the church, the kingdom, and the future.