I joined a Youth Ministry Network a few years ago. YMN is a group for Catholic Youth Ministers in the arch diocese of Minneapolis. It has been an awesome experience and I've come to really be drawn to that community. We meet once a month and network, do an ice breaker (read free programing) have a business meeting, listen to a presenter and then have lunch. It's been a place for me to laugh, network, hawk Youth Forum and grow. I think for anyone doing ministry, a community like this is important.
The morning session I went to last week was on the theology of sacraments. I found it quite interesting. Even though I'm a protestant, there was a lot that I pulled out of it and think a lot that applies to the Church as a whole. The catholic tradition has 7 sacraments that are almost pillars of their traditions. The talk focused on sacraments should be an extension of the community that they are practiced in. A main point, was shifting thinking on focusing on the idea that communion should be less about obtaining a holy object but about more about the church community being in unity. In our very individualistic culture, we tend to see sacraments as only vertical (God and I) but, built into In every sacrament there is a communal piece.
The three sacraments that our speaker focused on, and the three that I think are very universal are the sacraments of Baptism (and confirmation), Communion and Marriage.
An idea that he reemphasized several times is that baptism is the call to discipleship, not church membership. When we think of membership we equate it with I pay my dues for a service. That is not what this is. When joining a community, we should be asking not what can this community do for me, but what can I do for this community. It's not a sin to miss church, but the community misses what you bring when you are not there. This pushes heavily against the idea of mega church, or at least demands that small "churches" develop with-in the community of mass church.
Thinking less traditionally, I think we all have sacraments in our lives. Traditions that are extensions of community. What are some of yours?