Q&A — In Search of the Perfect Communion Statement

August 14th, 2012 Post by

The following question came in using our Ask a Pastor button to the right. Click the button to submit your own questions for our pastors to answer.

I am curious to know what those here think. The item below is the statement regarding the practice of receiving Holy Communion at an LCMS congregation near me. I do not usually attend Divine Service at this congregation; I am a member of a different LCMS parish. At times it was expedient for me to attend at this congregation. Last time I was there this was the statement printed. I did not approach to receive the Sacrament based on this statement as it seems (to me) to imply an open communion. As I said, I’d like to know comments of others.
Thank you.
Peace of Christ be with you.

Regarding Holy Communion
Today we celebrate Holy Communion as instituted by Jesus the night before He died for our sins. We believe that the very Body and Blood of Jesus is given with the bread and wine in this Sacrament, for the forgiveness of sins and to strengthen our faith. Our Communion practice is in keeping with 1 Corinthians 11:26-29. Guests who share these beliefs and are repentant of their sins are invited to commune today. If you have any questions, please speak with the Pastor prior to the beginning of the service.

We thought that this presentation by Pastor Paul J Cain might lead to some discussion about communion statements, and give guidance as to what should and should not be included in same. Pastor Cain is responsible for the LHP Quarterly Blog.

 

In Search of the Perfect Communion Card Statement
Spring 2008 Wyoming District Pastoral Conference
Trinity Lutheran Church, Rock Springs, Wyoming
Rev. Paul J Cain

You’ve heard people say “I’m a card-carrying member of the LCMS!”

I thought it was an urban legend until I saw one…

 

Working toward A Perfect Statement?

  • Rather than perfect, how about a faithful one…
  • “Membership” cards, “LCMS,” are shorthand for a full examination before communing. (Some places have forgotten the practice of “announcing for Communion)
  • Unique challenges (e.g. Mormons) based upon a congregation’s location, history, context
  • Examine the statements of other sister congregations & those outside the LCMS
  • There are benefits to a common statement!

 

The CTCR recommended communion card:

Registration for Holy Communion
The Lord’s Supper is celebrated at this congregation in the confession and glad confidence that, as He says, our Lord gives into our mouths not only bread and wine but His very body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins and to strengthen our union with Him and with one another. Our Lord invites to His table those who trust His words, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive and love as He forgives and loves us, that they may show forth His death until He comes.

The statement on the back of the card:

Because those who eat and drink our Lord’s body and blood unworthily do so to their great harm and because Holy Communion is a confession of the faith which is confessed at this altar, any who are not yet instructed, in doubt, or who hold a confession differing from that of this congregation and The Lutheran Synod–Missouri Synod, and yet desire to receive this sacrament, are asked first to speak with the pastor or an usher.

Common Wyoming District Additions to The LCMS CTCR Statement

  • We thank you for respecting our practice.
  • We welcome fellow Christians to sing, pray, and worship with us, but out of true, Biblical, Christian loving concern, we kindly ask that those who are not members of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod would not commune without first speaking with the pastor. We would not want our visitors to violate their own consciences or the public confession of faith that is made through their home Church member­ship. We would want, in obedience to God (Acts 2:42), that they first examine our teachings to determine if true fellowship exists between us.

An Expressed Concern About The LCMS CTCR Statement (on the rear of the card)

….and yet desire to receive this sacrament, are asked first to speak with the pastor or an usher.

Some have interpreted the last line to mean, “If I just speak with the pastor or an usher I will then be allowed to commune.”

 

Essential Elements in a Communion Statement

  • The Words of Christ!
  • The basic teachings of Scripture on the Supper found in the Small Catechism:
    • “This is My Body…This is My Blood” (Be more specific, rather than “Real Presence”)
    • Faith in these words: “Given and shed for your for the forgiveness of sins.”

 

Further Guidance

  • Holy Communion at this congregation is for…
    • the baptized Lutheran Christian
    • with Repentant Faith
    • who recognizes the Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood
    • who is in altar and pulpit fellowship with this congregation
      (Church Fellowship is Altar Fellowship)
  • Bible teaching on the Lord’s Supper
  • Unity in all teaching, not merely the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper

 

Helpful Ideas to Include:

  • Thank you for respecting our practice.
  • Speak to pastor:
    • Before service if LCMS to announce (call ahead)
    • Ask others refrain from communing, speak to pastor after
  • “If you are not a member of the congregation, you are asked to speak with the pastor or an elder or an usher before coming forward for the Sacrament.”
  • The LCMS and ELCA (or WELS, ELS, etc.) are not in fellowship with one another. (In the US, only in fellowship with the AALC (2007))
  • Pray for unity in Christ under Scripture.
  • We don’t want you to sin against your conscience.
  • Be clear. Brevity is best.

 

Other Concerns:

  • Where is this announcement located?
    Card, Pew, Bulletin (where?), Tract, Welcome Table, With an Elder or Usher?

 

Carefully Prepare:

  • Pastor (be available before service)
  • Elders
  • Ushers
  • Greeters
  • Members (when bringing family/friends)
  • Members (when visiting sister congregations)
    * A letter from you? Eucharist and Church Fellowship
    * Ask them to call ahead

 

Why Are Some Statements “Insufficient”?

  • When there is no statement at all.
    Saying nothing says a lot.
  • Some say: “Y’all come!”
    This equals “Open Communion”
  • All Lutherans OR All Baptized Christians
    Not all are in altar and pulpit fellowship
  • Four Parts: Sorry for sins, want to do better (amend sinful life), believe in Jesus as Savior, believe in the Real Presence
    (Repentance, Sanctification, and Faith are good, but it ignores agreement in all doctrinal articles)

 

A Quick Poll

[poll id="6"]

 

A Wyoming District Communion Statement Example:

SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR In our worship today we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We believe and teach the Real Presence of Christ – His body and blood in the Sacrament for our forgiveness and nurture. In the Sacrament we are joined in a very close, personal and intimate way with Christ and with one another as we receive the bread and wine, the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. We believe that when a person partakes of the Sacrament he/she is also confessing his/her unreserved agreement with the doctrine and practice that is proclaimed from the altar and pulpit of which the Sacrament is administered. We therefore ask that all visitors and guests who may wish to receive the Sacrament or discuss Close Communion kindly speak to an Elder or the Pastor at a convenient time during the week.

 

Here is the entire powerpoint presentation made at the 2008 Wyoming District Pastor’s Conference:

 


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  1. Ginny Valleau
    August 14th, 2012 at 11:47 | #1

    “If you are not a member of the congregation, you are asked to speak with the pastor or an elder or an usher before coming forward for the Sacrament.” [My emphasis.]

    The pastor is the one who is ultimately responsible and I don’t think he can “delegate” this responsibility. Based on experience (where the usher(s) did not have a clue), it is best to talk with the pastor. Unless the ushers are well trained to direct all guest(s) to the pastor.

    God’s Blessings,
    Ginny Valleau

  2. John Rixe
    August 14th, 2012 at 11:51 | #2

    “Everyone Welcome at this Table
    God/dess loves all her children”
    – Ebenezer Lutheran Church, San Francisco (ELCA)

    Does this seem to imply an open communion?   :)

  3. Matthew Mills
    August 14th, 2012 at 11:53 | #3

    It won’t fit on a card, but IMHO the ULC’s “WHAT YOUR EATING AND DRINKING AT THIS ALTAR CONFESSES” is the gold standard:

    WHAT YOUR EATING AND DRINKING AT THIS ALTAR CONFESSES
    Our Lord speaks. We listen. The stance of faith is open to receive all that the Lord gives in His Word. Of the Sacrament of the Altar, our Lord says: “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me….This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (see St.Matthew 26:26-28; St.Mark 14:22-24; St. Luke 22:19-20; I Corinthians 11:23-24). Jesus’ words make the Sacrament what it is. Without his words there is no Sacrament.

    We may bring no contradiction of Christ and His words into this Holy Communion of His body and blood. Here we enter into the very Holy of Holies of the New Testament-Jesus’ very body and blood. Here the body and blood born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven is put into our mouths. This is the most intimate union of the believer with the Lord. Eating and drinking Jesus’ body and blood is a proclamation of faith. The Lord’s Apostle writes “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (I Corinthians 11:26). It is the prayer of the same Apostle that Christians “with one mind and mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans l5:6). We may not come together in the Lord’s Supper with differing minds and mouths.

    In keeping with our Lord’s words and gifts and in conformity with the apostolic practice of the church catholic, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod practices closed communion. Out of reverence for the Lord’s body and blood and out of sincere love that seeks to guard the spiritual well-being of all who would commune, we invite to the altar those who have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have been taught the Lord’s words, and are Currently joined to an altar where Christ’s words have free course, undiminished by human error or novelty.

    The church has no mandate from the Lord to make things up as she goes along. Even as the Apostle Paul writes “I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you “(I Corinthians 11:23), so the church can hand on only that which she has been given. We have been given the Sacrament of our Lord’s body and blood. How we are to receive and use this gift to our spiritual good, we know from the Lord’s Word: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so eat and drink of that cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (I Corinthians 11:27-29). In keeping with these apostolic instructions, the Large Catechism declares “For we do not intend to admit to the sacrament and administer it to those who do not know what they seek or why they come” ( Tappert, The Book of Concord, p.447).

    Those who are to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper are first to be baptized and instructed in the way of the “all things” which our Lord gives His church (see St.Matthew 28:19-20) so that they know what it is that they receive in the Sacrament (the true body and blood of the Lord) and how they are to receive it (repentance and faith). This happens through catechesis (teaching), the fulfillment of this catechesis is celebrated in Confirmation where the catechumen pledges “to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it” (Lutheran Worship, p.206). If one departs from this confession and Church, he may no longer eat and drink at this altar.

    While we may not presume to judge the faith of another, the Scriptures do call us to judge between varying confessions of the faith (see Romans l6:l7). In practicing closed communion, we are not entering into a judgement concerning the saving faith of individual members of other churches. We rejoice over all those who have saving faith in Jesus Christ. Fellowship at the altar is not established by faith in the heart but by sharing in a common confession of faith anchored in “the Gospel preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments administered in accordance with the divine Word”( Augsburg Confession VII,2-3; Tappert, The Book of Concord, p.32).Without agreement in “doctrine and all its articles” (Formula of Concord X,6; Tappert, The Book of Concord, p.616) there is no fellowship, no oneness in the “holy things” of Word and Sacrament.

    We are painfully aware of the barriers that outwardly divide Christ’s people and we pray week after week in the Divine Service “For the well-being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all.” It is a cause of great sadness that all Christians are not yet united in God’s Word and therefore are unable to receive Christ’s body and blood together. Where there is no unity in the Word, there can be no unity in the Sacrament.

    As a called and ordained servant of the Word, the pastor is the “steward of the mysteries of God” (I Corinthians 4:1-2) in the midst of the congregation. The pastor exercises this stewardship by giving out Jesus’ body and blood in accordance with His words. The Lord’s Supper is good medicine. It is the medicine that carries forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Good medicine provides healing when it is taken according to the directives of the physician. If good medicine used apart from the instructions of the physician, the results can be hazardous. The same applies to the Lord’s Supper. We sincerely want all people to receive the Lord’s body and blood with us, but we want them to receive this potent gift in accord with the words of our Lord. As a steward of the mysteries of God, our pastor stands ready to assist you in preparing to come to the Lord’s Table with us by teaching you His Word.

    – The Rev. John T. Pless
    University Lutheran Chapel
    Minneapolis, MN
    Eastertide l993

  4. “LC-MS Quotes”
    August 14th, 2012 at 11:59 | #4

    Gary Ruckman, pastor of Mount Calvary, Peoria: On your point on giving communion, would you comment on the two following situations? One, you have a grandmother who comes into your community to live, leaving what we would normally refer to as the old A.L.C. , whose beliefs are right in line with the Missouri Synod. As a pastor, you’re asked to commune this lady on a regular basis; you are taking on pastoral care, but she can’t attend church. On the other hand, on a given Sunday, you’re given the situation of maybe once or twice a year pastoral opportunity to commune a loved one who does not belong within the LC-MS. Would you comment on those two differences on communion practice? One being an ongoing ministry, one being what we would more look at as a one-time ministry in relation to giving communion.

    Robert Preus: And the one being private and the other being public.

    Gary Ruckman: Yeah.

    Robert Preus: I don’t know if I want to comment too much because if I said something some of you pastors might get mad at me. I just don’t think you can, in advance, tell another pastor what to do in these cases and, thus, kind of create a principle out of cases that are exceptional. If I were to do that, we would have to create what the Roman Catholics have done, a monster called Canon Law, which would justify the fellow doing it in the first case, let’s say, but not the second. We’ve never done that quite so much in the Lutheran church. In our pastoral theology books like Fritz–that some of you older pastors at least used–he sets up principles, but he doesn’t work through these casuistic cases and answer them with any definiteness. That’s why I brought up my old pastor giving this Mason communion. It was wrong to do it. But he did it. It was an exception. He took it. I wouldn’t want to judge him. Many of the members did. Maybe he has to take that into consideration when he breaks with the norm.

    I don’t want to avoid the thing.

    I can just bring up case after case after case.

    My mother-in-law was a pious Lutheran, Norwegian background. So, obviously, she wasn’t Missouri Synod. She came down and stayed with us in Saint Louis. She took communion. Nobody knew whether that would be the last time she’d stay with us. She didn’t just join the church every time. I suppose you could get out of it very easily by saying, “Mrs. Rockman, would you like to join this church for the rest of your life?”

    In the old Norwegian Synod–you people are all German, but there are a few Norwegians in this world; and the Norwegians are more scrappy than the Germans, so they split up into many more synods than the Germans did; and so very difficult this whole matter of communion–well they ran a school up at Fergus Falls, Minnesota, the old Norwegian Synod, where anybody who went to that school was expected to go to communion at the local church, which was affiliated with that school, and if they didn’t go to communion they weren’t invited to go to the school. Why? Because they put themselves under the pastorate of the president of that school. He was their pastor when they’re away from home. Their home pastor back in Montana couldn’t help them. And if he’s going to be their pastor, he’s going to see to it that they take the Lord’s Supper regularly. There’s a situation.

    I mean I just don’t think we can recreate all the possible situations that can answer these questions in any way. And that’s why we set down principles concerning closed communion, abide by them. If one pastor breaks it, I am not going to immediately go to him, or go to the world, and say he’s offended the whole church and so forth. I may have to if he’s persistent in that thing, but I’ll sin on the side of charity. I hope I’m being evangelical but not liberal.

    Dr. Robert Preus (1924-95)
    Pilgrim Lutheran Church
    Decatur, Illinois
    Saturday, September 9, 1995

  5. August 14th, 2012 at 12:11 | #5

    @Ginny Valleau #1

    Good point, Ginny! Putting the best construction on it, I would expect that the Ushers and Elders are trained to route such a request to the pastor. It may be difficult for a visitor to find the pastor before service, but easy to find the person handing out bulletins.

    I know that’s how it works at my church. Of course, if it is 5 minutes before service, there isn’t time for the required discussion.

  6. Former Anglican
    August 14th, 2012 at 14:49 | #6

    ULC Minneapolis’ Official Communion statement is:

    To Our Visitors
    + Regarding the Doctrine +
    of Closed Communion:

    In accordance with the apostolic command and in unity with the unbroken practice of the Church, University Lutheran Chapel practices Closed Communion. If you are not a member of a congregation in fellowship with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod we kindly ask you to refrain from communing. We do so not to offend you, but because the Scriptures clearly teach that those communing together be unified in their confession of the Faith. In this Sacrament we are not only joined to Christ our Head who is present in His body and blood, but are also knit together with one another as His Body, in which there should be no division of belief. Should you have questions or concerns about this Biblical and historic doctrine, please speak with our pastor. If this is your first time communing at University Lutheran Chapel, please speak with our pastor before the service.

    http://ulcmn.org/About/Worship.html#Anchor-Communio-16426

  7. Rev. McCall
    August 14th, 2012 at 15:02 | #7

    FWIW we have a very strongly worded communion statement as well that clearly states what we believe and asks visitors not to commune unless they are a member of the LCMS. We do add in one thing though, that I feel is helpful. We acknowledge that just because the person cannot commune with us does not mean that they are not a Christian and then we add that although they cannot commune we still invite them to come up to the rail and cross their arms and receive a blessing/assurance of forgiveness/absolution from the pastor. This has worked well for us and many visitors take advatage of it.

  8. Pastor Ted Crandall
    August 14th, 2012 at 16:44 | #8

    Here’s what I use in an attempt to put the responsibiity for not being able to commune where it rightly belongs — with those who reject fellowship with us by rejecting the Christian doctrine which we teach and believe:

    “We welcome everyone to join us and fervently pray for unity in the Christian faith, that we can celebrate that unity together in Holy Communion. Our Lord has given His Body and Blood for you, for the forgiveness of your sins, and He invites to His Table those who trust His words, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive and love as He forgives and loves us. Those who are not yet instructed, in doubt, or who hold a confession differing from that of this congregation, and yet desire to receive the Sacrament, are asked to wait until they do confess the same Christian faith. Please speak with the pastor about receiving instruction to learn that faith, in order for you to make an informed decision about joining us at His Table. Again, we welcome everyone to join us and fervently pray for unity in the Christian faith! (For further study, please see Matthew 5:23 ff., 10:32 ff., 18:15–35, 26:26–29, 1 Corinthians 11:17–34.)”

    http://www.lutheransonline.com/thebeaufortmission

  9. August 14th, 2012 at 18:35 | #9

    Nothing says, “We are glad you are here” than a long-winded diatribe about why a visitor can not receive the Sacrament. How about simply asking folks to speak to the pastor before the service, if they have not previously communed? No fuss, no muss.

    And if they present themselves at the altar, simply ask if they are a confirmed LCMS Lutheran. If they say no, do not commune them.

    I used to think that if only I could craft the “perfect communion statement” I would be home free.

    Wrong.

  10. fws
    August 14th, 2012 at 19:29 | #10

    @Rev. Paul T. McCain #9

    +1!!!!

    Whew. What fun to fully agree with you!

    My former pastor used to stop at the rail and question communicants he did not know. He said it is like someone you dont know showing up at your intimate thanksgiving family dinner. when they say “pass the mashed potatoes”, it is not impoliite to say “excuse me, do you mind telling me who you are?”

    may I add this… What is missing in alot of these discussions is this:

    15. What should we do when we eat His body and drink His blood, and in this way receive His pledge?
    We should remember and proclaim His death and the shedding of His blood, as He taught us: This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.

    16. Why should we remember and proclaim His death?
    First, so that we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins. Only Christ, true God and man, could do that.
    Second, so we may learn to be horrified by our sins, and to regard them as very serious.
    Third, so we may find joy and comfort in Christ alone, and through faith in Him be saved.
    http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php “Christian Questions and Answers”

    The Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is the most horrifying Law on the Planet. As is Christ Crucified. http://bookofconcord.org/sd-lawandgospel.php#para13

    Why do we never discuss this fact when discussing open/closed communion?

    I maybe disagree on one point: I know of an anglican pastor who is completely Lutheran in his thinking. At a seminar in germany he was denied the Blessed Sacrament by some LCMS Lutherans. There would have been no public scandal or public implication that the LCMS was in fellowship with Anglicans to allow him to commune. And there is an equal responsibility of the pastor to give the Holy Supper to those prepared and in need of it.

  11. Rev. John F. Wurst
    August 14th, 2012 at 22:30 | #11

    @Rev. Paul T. McCain #9

    Do you know how many people will lie to you (the pastor) when you ask them at altar? If they get to the altar, and lie, I remember it’s on their head. When I review te visitors information from the fellowship pad, I find out real quick who lied at the altar.

    Up here in northern Minnesota, the people, for the majority, don’t know what Lutheran is. The ELCA outnumbers LCMS by something like 10-1.

    My communion statement probably isn’t as strong as it could be but I do find people will refrain by reading it. I’ve actually had some admit after the service they didn’t know what Closed Communion was.

    Just some thoughts. Norm, thank you for this research.

  12. August 15th, 2012 at 04:16 | #12

    @fws #10
    “There would have been no public scandal or public implication that the LCMS was in fellowship with Anglicans to allow him to commune.”

    Sure there would be a scandal — his choice of which communion to join (and not join) is the most reliable evidence others have of his [an anglican pastor's] faith.

  13. Pastor Charles McClean
    August 15th, 2012 at 07:11 | #13

    @Rev. Paul T. McCain #9 I thoroughly agree with your recommendation about “communion statements.” The congregation I was raised in had the simple statement, “Those desiring to commune with us for the first time are asked to speak with the pastor before doing so.” In that congregation two very long-standing members of the church council who knew the congregation very well would usher the people out of their pews to go to the altar; and if they saw a stranger they would ask him, “Have you announced for Communion?” and if the stranger said “no,” they would inform him that he could not go to the altar. In that way one avoided the embarrassing situation of having to inquire of people at the altar rail. Of course in those days only communicants went to the altar rail! Now of course parents bring their infants to the altar, children not yet admitted to Communion appear, and visitors come up for a blessing. I frankly see no way to change all that but I do believe it has complicated everything considerably.

  14. The PPPadre
    August 15th, 2012 at 07:53 | #14

    Since we reprint our entire service in the bulletin, our Communion statement is reprinted right before the Salutation that begins the Service of the Sacrament.

    Following a brief statement about the nature and purpose of the Sacrament comes this statement: “Because receiving the Sacrament of the Altar is a part of continuing pastoral care, we ask that visitors wait to receive from their home pastor or speak to Pastor prior to receiving the Sacrament.” When we have days where we have large numbers of guests from neighboring congregations (hosting joint services, school choir singing prior to NLSW), an additional sentence about our invited guests who are members in good standing at those neighboring congregations may commune “because Pastor has already spoken with your pastor about your communing with us today.” And I do – prior to any event where large numbers of guests from neighboring congregations are anticipated, I speak with those pastors to see if there are any pastoral concerns regarding those likely to be at the service and communing.

  15. RevRandall
    August 15th, 2012 at 08:05 | #15

    Rev. Paul T. McCain :How about simply asking folks to speak to the pastor before the service, if they have not previously communed? No fuss, no muss.

    That doesn’t work very well when the congregation you serve was an “open communion” congregation for many years.

  16. Rev. Mark J. Buchhop
    August 15th, 2012 at 09:17 | #16

    Almost all the communion statements I have seen over the years have omitted an important component of this wonderful sacrament: the Gospel is good news. The Lord’s Body and Blood are all about the Gospel. Whenever the visitor sees wording that says, “Don’t come!” -in any way, shape, or form, it speaks Law to them, not Gospel. How about wording like this:

    “If you are not a confirmed member of a congregation of the LCMS, please do not commune today. However, please know that we look forward to having you at the Lord’s Table soon. Pastor sincerely invites you to visit with him about the joys of Holy Communion. He will offer you instruction about our Lutheran faith and this sacrament, so you will be ready to partake of this wonderful meal.”

    I have had countless people inquire about this and subsequently attend catechesis.

  17. mbw
    August 15th, 2012 at 11:54 | #17

    @Rev. Paul T. McCain #9

    > How about simply asking folks to speak to the pastor before the service, if they have not previously communed?

    This is a good statement. I’d feel better adding a short verbal statement by the pastor (not everyone reads that part of the bulletin). I do not see how this would be a bad thing. It would add twenty important seconds to each service.

  18. John Marquardt
    August 15th, 2012 at 14:01 | #18

    @RevRandall #15
    Pastor Randall — I think you have a perfect opportunity for a sermon series on Holy Communion.

    If your congregation had open Communion in the past, my guess is that there are probably other things your parishioners may be confused about.

    I’ve even heard the Pastor verbally give the “Communion talk” before the Divine Service — he stressed the importance of receiving it correctly and warned of receiving it without proper preparation and understanding.

    It made a few people uncomfortable — but, I think it made the point and strengthened the purpose.

    You might want to try that.

    One thing I have never understood is why some people insist on receiving Holy Communion where they are not members or do not believe that it is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus.

    It’s basically rude.

  19. helen
    August 15th, 2012 at 14:26 | #19

    @Ginny Valleau #1
    “If you are not a member of the congregation, you are asked to speak with the pastor or an elder or an usher before coming forward for the Sacrament.”

    An elder or usher in our congregation would direct you to the Pastor, if necessary. (He may find out that you’ve already talked to the Pastor.)
    Our ushers usually include Elders, who know what the answers should be and refer to the Pastor if there is any doubt. The Pastor is quite often in the nave or narthex before the service.

  20. RevRandall
    August 15th, 2012 at 16:32 | #20

    @John Marquardt #18
    Thanks for the note, John.

    I guess I should clarify. We DO practice closed communion here. That was not the case several years ago, so, a statement saying “if you haven’t communed here before speak with the pastor” would not work because all kinds of people communed at this altar at one time…baptists, elca…even a Hindu!!!

    We have a statement that takes the CTCR statement and also adds the following paragraphs (borrowed from another church):

    “By communing together we also acknowledge our common commitment to all the teachings of the Bible as they are confessed in our church. Our practice of Closed Communion, the historic practice of the Church, is prompted by love, both for God’s Word and for God’s people. This practice bows the knee to God’s deep concern for doctrinal truth and unity.

    If you are not a member of this congregation, or the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, we
    respectfully request you speak with a pastor before coming to the Lord’s Supper. For further study, see: Matthew 5:23ff, 10:32ff; 18:15-35; 26:26-29; Acts 2:42; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 11:17-33.”

    We also make an oral announcement at the beginning of the Divine Service.

  21. Diane
    August 15th, 2012 at 19:58 | #21

    We happened to be visiting Pastor Rossow’s church the other Sunday and this is Bethany, Naperville’s statement:

    ‘Today we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in which we joyfully receive Christ’s Body and Blood, under bread and wine, for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. As these gifts are personally received, those communing together also give public witness that they are one in doctrine. In loving obedience to this teaching of Scripture, we therefore invite communicant members of all congregations in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to commune with us.’

    I think the above is perfectly fine.

  22. John Marquardt
    August 16th, 2012 at 08:43 | #22

    @RevRandall #20
    Fantastic Pastor Randall.

  23. Kais
    August 16th, 2012 at 10:39 | #23

    John Marquardt :@RevRandall #15 One thing I have never understood is why some people insist on receiving Holy Communion where they are not members or do not believe that it is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus.
    It’s basically rude.

    @John Marquardt #18

    Because the uninformed and / or the don’t want to be informed have a basic entitlement mentality.
    “I have a right to communion”, “I have a right to abort”, “I have a right to marry anyone or any gender”, “I have a right to believe what I want.” And on and on and on and on…

  24. rev. david l. prentice jr.
    August 16th, 2012 at 17:11 | #24

    In every bulletin, on the website, and in practice. If they come to the Holy Meal, I still will ask questions if I do not know them, and pastoral discretion is in practice. Me and my Lord will discuss my practice when I meet with Him.

    Statement on Holy Communion Reception
    Our worship service is open to all; however, as a matter of faith, we practice close communion. The Lords Supper is celebrated at this congregation in the confession and glad confidence that, as he says, our Lord gives into our mouths not only bread and wine but his very body and blood to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of sins and to strengthen our union with him and with one another.
    Our Lord invites to his table those who trust his words, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive and love as he forgives and loves us, that they may show forth his death until he comes.
    Because those who eat and drink our Lords body and blood unworthily do so to their great harm and because Holy Communion is a confession of the faith which is confessed at this altar, any who are not yet instructed, in doubt, or who hold a confession differing from that of this congregation and The Lutheran Church?Missouri Synod, and yet desire to receive the sacrament, are asked first to speak with the pastor.

    For further study, see Matthew 5:23f.; 10:32f.; 18:15-35; 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:17-34.

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