Influenza and communion — 55 Comments

  1. I’ll try again to answer Millie’s question. Of course my answer will be inadequate as I cannot, nor do I think anyone else can either say how LCMS congregations handled “epidemics” in the past. During flu and other outbreaks of of ill health in congregations I served we continued to serve the Body and Blood of Christ in the divine service without taking any particular sanitary measures other than the ones we took previously for all our our communion services – iow very few precautions. Typically, if we had the common cup, I consumed the remaining wine in the cup. Neither I nor anyone else ever tried to connect their ill health to the cup. Such an approach was simply out of the question for Christ would not permit such.

  2. “Neither I nor anyone else ever tried to connect their ill health to the cup.”

    There is a long history of scientific studies that have looked at the persistance of disease-causing germs remaining on and in chalices of wine and as well as statistical attempts at determining whether such germs can infect other communicants. In Post No. 40, I pointed out the various problems in trying to accurately set up a statistical test that would provide valid data for quantifying that transmission risk.

    “Such an approach was simply out of the question for Christ would not permit such.”

    Elnathan, in his Post No. 7 and
    Post No. 9, Dr. Heidenreich discuss the possible transmission of disease through the common cup. Dr. Heidenreich also pointed out that people had died as a result of immersion baptism. Articles can also be googled or binged on the internet reporting baptisms that have resulted in near death and brain damage.

  3. “…for Christ would not permit such.”

    Elnathan the younger,

    Just so I know if I am following your reasoning correctly, do you believe that if someone were to lace the communion wine with poison, it would not harm anyone? Or, are you saying Christ would not let anyone lace the communion wine with poison? Or, perhaps as Rev. Stefanski’s reasoning above suggests, do you believe it would only harm those who were not discerning the body of Christ, being the mechanism used for their discipline?

    I wonder how many people would be willing to participate in a study testing any of these “Christ-would-not-permit-such” hypotheses? Not I. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Nor would I ever receive Christ’s blood from a common cup during an influenza pandemic, or right after someone with a cold sore on their lip drank from the same cup, or right after someone you know is sick with mono or any number of other diseases known to be transmitted via common drinking vessels. Nor would I do so knowing I might thereby be transmitting pathogenic bacteria or viruses to others that I don’t even know I am carrying yet.

    This is not irrational. Ask any health department, and they would tell you that they would immediately shut down any restaurant that was not adequately disinfecting its drinking glasses between each and every use. Our church kitchen even has an expensive commercial dish washer installed for this very purpose, with detailed instructions for its use posted next to it so that users know to get the water up to the necessary temperature, for we know now that washing glasses and coffee cups by hand with soap and water does not adequately disinfect them.

    I hope you can see that I could only abandon this position in good conscience if I could be shown that Christ commanded the use of a common cup, or that Christ promised that He “would not permit such.” And, yes, I am willing to be taught.

  4. Erich Heidenreich, DDS: you asked me a question. No, I am not trying to say if the sacrament were laced with poison would it be safe to partake. However, this discussion, imo, is laced with poison for its focus is wrong headed.

    As I said earlier (Post 21) “every pastor should teach his congregation that the Sacrament is not the only means of grace. If you have the sniffles, etc. you can forgo the Sacrament without detriment to your spiritual welfare. If I am so ill that you cannot come to church – then surely the pastor will come by and give me the body and Blood and only he and thee will commune.”

    1. Faith approaches the Sacrament for the benefits that Christ gives therein, namely the forgiveness of sins.

    2. Faith might forgo the Sacrament for the welfare of others if one has a cold (This is plain ordinary common sense) knowing that the other means of grace are still available and effective.

    While the scientific investigations might be interesting, they are not of faith and therefore, imo, there really is no need to go further in the discussion regarding them.

    If one holds to these two principles the problems discussed are, well, “solved.”

    AS to the common cup. Faith has no problem with it – would Christ give me something harmful? (Please remember this is in the context of above – forgoing the sacrament if I am sick – for the benefit of my brother.) I really wish that we all partook of that cup that St. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul speak of and that Jesus handled. I doubt very much that it is mentioned for no reason.

  5. I stumbled across this website and even though it looks as if most of the comments are 2 years + old, I would like to add my comments. As a member of the congregation who is one of those individuals who fight cold/flu/bronchitis every winter for at least 2 to 3 months at a time, I have elected to do the following: during times of illness, I accept the communion wafer from pastor and then I hold it until the wine is passed. At that time I dunk the wafer into the wine in our common cup. I then had not exposed anyone else to any of my germs since I have not touch the cup at all. My pastor seems comfortable with this solution and there are now 2 other members who commune thusly. Hope this helps and I pray that your husband has recovered and is active once more.

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