49 5 C H U R C H A C T I O N S 61 The kingdom of God is not a concept, but a living reality that surpasses human understanding. To explain this mystery, Jesus used parables – simple stories from everyday life. In the same way, he instituted certain simple actions for his church as signs of the power of his kingdom: the washing with water in baptism; the communal breaking of bread and drinking of wine at the Lord’s Supper; the laying on of hands to pronounce forgiveness or pray for healing; the granting of church discipline and reacceptance; and the joining of husband and wife in marriage. Since early Christian times, these actions have been known as sacraments: sacred symbols that give visible form to the hidden reality of Christ in our midst. These symbolic actions are nothing miraculous in themselves. Instead, they are signs of the prayer of the united church interceding for God to act, illustrating the working of Christ. They are seals of the authority Is 55:6–11; Rom 11:33–36 Eph 3:17–21 Matt 13 Acts 8:17–21 Jas 5:13–16