Monday, September 28, 2009

Communion statement

"Offering and Preparation of the Altar for Communion: please read the following statement:
At this time members of this church are privileged to give to the Lord for the work of His church in this community, and throughout the world. For God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:7). Visitors should not feel obligated in any way to contribute to the offering plate.
We also prepare to partake in the Lord's Supper, where Christ invites us to receive our inheritance, the forgiveness of sins, according to His last will and testament, the New Testament in His blood. Accordingly, we invite all those who are members of the Missouri Synod or churches with which she is in fellowship to celebrate communion with us. As long as they are repentant of their sins, desire to live better according to God's will, have their faith in Jesus strengthened, and truly believe the word's of Christ: "This is my body... This is my blood." We believe that it is truly Christ's body and blood given to us, His royal priesthood, for the forgiveness of sins in a miraculous and sacramental way not a mere representation of His body and blood. We also believe that Communion is a confession, not only of faith, but also of unity. For the Bible says: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (1 Cor. 10:17 (ESV) "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons." (1 Cor. 10:21(ESV) We believe that this unity is not only of faith but in doctrine and practice as Paul also says in 1 Corinthians: "I appeal to you, brothers by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." (1 Cor 1:10 (ESV) And that those who partake of the Lord's Supper without proper discernment do not receive forgiveness, but do themselves harm: "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Cor. 11:29 (ESV) We therefore ask that visitors who have not been instructed, and do not hold membership in the LCMS refrain from communing. We ask this out of consideration for their own welfare, and so that they do not unwittingly make a false confession of faith, not knowing what it is that the Lutheran Church believes, teaches, and confesses. Thank you for your consideration of this policy."
I publish the above every week in my bulletin, and read it should there be anyone in church I do not know. I thought I would share it today. See if anyone has any thoughts on it. Does this adequately explain why we practice closed communion? I should also say I wrote this not only as a statement to "fence" the altar, but to remind my own people of what they are doing when they approach the altar, and what they are receiving.


Jonathan said...

I usually see statements that say something to the effect of "Lutherans believe the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion. All baptized Christians are welcome to partake, affirming that you agree with the teachings of the Lutheran Church. Others, please speak to the Pastor first."

It's sort of like clicking the little 'check mark" on an End User License Agreement in order to proceed to software installation. Who actually reads those? At least your version puts it out there.

Question though on your EULA: if it's sufficient to properly catechize/examine members beforehand, why not others?

Bror Erickson said...

Sorry I have been out of town pretty much all week. Should have put a notice.
What do you mean by EULA?
Of course, the thing here is that I would like to properly catechize all. Some have been catechized, and are members of Missouri Synod, already. Sometimes I don't have time to examine them before church. If I see visitors I don't know I read this aloud before communion. It was written just as much to reinforce the faith in my own parishoner's as it was to fence the altar.

Jonathan said...

Just curious what happens if the stranger hears the statement and still comes up to the rail?

At that point, does the statement function like an "assumption of the spiritual risk" agreement?

Bror Erickson said...

I let them come and I commune them. Talk to them after wards. But yeah, it pretty much is an assumption of Spiritual risk.