Minnesota North Encourages Its Congregations to Study the Book of Concord (Communion in One Kind — Part One)
One feature of District and Synodical Conventions is the “mom and apple pie” resolution. These are the kinds of resolutions that no sensible person can really vote against. Cynics suspect that such resolutions are set forward in order to get the “yes” votes rolling, so that the train might continue to roll right through the more controversial topics. (Note to those in charge: This might sound good on paper, but it doesn’t always follow through in actual practice. Use with care.)
Whether or not such reasoning is actually the case, I also suspect that it doesn’t look too good in the Reporter — when a Convention is completely deadlocked on everything. By passing mom and apple pie resolutions, they can at least say: “After much heated debate, the Convention narrowly decided to allow its congregations to participate in a collection for orphans in Africa. However, it was unanimously agreed to say that God is good, and upon expressing such wonderful concord, everyone stood to sing the Common Doxology.”
At my District Convention, one such mom and apple pie resolution was adopted: “To Encourage Study of the Book of Concord during Reformation Celebration”. (One Pastor went to the microphone. He said that it was sad that we had to encourage ourselves to do this. Studying the Book of Concord should already be at the heart of what we are already doing, anyway.)
Speaking of encouragement, this resolution is filled with encouragement! It tells the District to encourage all of its Congregations to hold regular ongoing studies of the Book of Concord. Then, the District is told to encourage the Congregations to encourage its members to actually attend these studies. The resolution resolves to reintroduce itself at the District’s 2015 Convention, in order to continue to encourage everyone to continue encouraging everybody to keep on studying the Book of Concord. Finally, this resolution sends all of this encouragement on to the whole Synod — at the 2013 Convention. It wants all of the Congregations in all of the Districts to be encouraged to encourage all of the members to actually attend all of the studies of the Book of Concord that they all have been encouraged to hold. (If you don’t feel the encouragement at this point, it’s your own fault.)
As an Advisory Delegate, I was not allowed to vote for this resolution, yet I wholeheartedly support it. (After all, it is mom and apple pie.) It should come as no surprise that I am struck in the study of the Book of Concord by the practical applications that you find within this book. Some say that the Lutheran Confessions are simply the historical beliefs of people who lived a long time ago. I believe that the Book of Concord gives us something more. When we make these Confessions our own, we are not simply saying: “I agree that this is what they said and did between the 4th and 16th centuries.” By making these Confessions our own, we are agreeing to apply these Confessions to what we actually say and do today.
Where these Confessions are unknown within The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (which, sad to say, I suspect to be quite widely the case,) I hope that such studies will indeed bear much fruit. (I hope that you can feel the encouragement radiating from northern Minnesota.)
Having been so encouraged, I have personally taken the opportunity to begin such a study at the Congregation where I serve as Pastor. It seemed best to begin with the Small Catechism, as people are less likely to be intimidated by a writing with which they are already somewhat familiar. (If anyone would like to attend, we meet on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. Directions can be found at our website: emmlp.org.)
If you caught the title for this article, you may also have noticed the subtitle: “Communion in One Kind”. At our first session, we read through the first half of Luther’s Preface to the Small Catechism, where we found this particular issue addressed in passing. Luther wrote to the bishops of his day, chastising them for the abuses that they had commanded within the churches. One of these abuses was ‘communion in one kind’ (only distributing the Body of Christ but withholding the Blood from the people). This led to an interesting discussion of modern practices (and abuses), which I thought might fit into my assigned worship category here at BJS, which I also thought worthy of discussion.
However, you may also have noticed that I have subtitled this article “Part One”. After getting through all of this prolegomena, I have already passed my usual self-imposed limit of 500 words. So, for the sake of my time and yours, I will pick this topic up again next time.