Is it wrong for the pastor to “commune himself” in the Divine Service?

Thanks to Rev. John A. Frahm for submitting this newsletter article for posting on BJS. We welcome other submissions that would be of interest to our readership and perhaps generate discussion. His newsletters can be found here.

 

Distinguishing Between the Person and Office of the Pastor in Communion Within the Divine Service

Rubrics are the directions in red print in the hymnal and other liturgical books that give instructions and suggestions on the “how” of the liturgical rites and ceremonies. In Altar Book of our new hymnal Lutheran Service Book, the following rubric is given for all five of the Divine Service settings:

The pastor and those who assist him receive the body and blood of Christ first, the presiding minister communing himself and his assistants. Then they distribute the body and blood to those who come to receive… [LSB Altar Book, pages 168, 207, 249, 270, 285].

Likewise, Martin Luther’s Formula Missae [Luther’s Latin Mass] (1523) notes: “Then, while the Agnus Dei is sung, let him [the liturgist] communicate, first himself and then the people” [Luther’s Works American Edition, volume 53, p.29]. Luther Reed, in his important book, The Lutheran Liturgy, states:

Self-communion of the minister has always been an open question in Lutheran liturgics. Luther himself approved it and repeatedly defended it (deinde communicet tum sese, tum populum [Formula Missae (Luther’s Latin Mass)]). It is quite certain that for a generation or two this liturgical action, which belongs to the integrity of the rite, was usual in Lutheran services. Later when liturgical knowledge and feeling had declined, dogmatic Biblicism and pietistic subjectivism brought about its disuse. The dogmaticians, however, generally allow it, though advising that if another minister be present he should administer it to the officiant. The Schmalkald Articles forbid self-communion only when this involves reception apart form the congregation (Part II, Art. II). Chemnitz says the minister includes himself in the confession and absolution and he may include himself in the Communion. [Luther D. Reed. The Lutheran Liturgy, p.372]

As pointed out above, the “private mass” that Lutherans condemn is not the pastor communing himself in the midst of the regular Divine Service of the congregation. The “private mass” that is condemned is a mass or Divine Service where no one communes or where only the pastor communes without the congregation. Unheard of until the latter half the twentieth century was communion of pastors by those who were not called and ordained. This is why the circuit “Winkel” conference was instituted during the time of Pietism where pastors would commune among each other. While upholding Augsburg Confession, Article XIV, the sad fact was that during Pietism those pastors did not want to be seen communing, lest the congregation think the pastor had sins! But honoring Augsburg Confession, Article XIV and having the pastor commune with the congregation is the most evangelical and biblically faithful. Of course, if there is more than one pastor present, it is certainly fitting for them to commune each other, but it is still not necessary for it to be that way.

One should not read into the pastor’s “self-communion” a motive of thinking he is “holier than thou” by this practice. Hopefully one would accord the pastor what Luther explains in the eighth commandment by “putting the best construction on everything.” It is simply distinguishing between the person of the pastor as baptized and forgiven sinner vs. the office that he holds by call and ordination. (If he thought he had no sin, why would he desire to commune and so receive the forgiveness of sins?) We confess in our Augsburg Confession, Article XIV that, “no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called”[Latin rite vocatus/German ordentlicher beruf]. The doctrine of the royal priesthood of believers (I Peter 2:9) is not so much about “everyone a minister” or “everyone a pastor” but it is about being a “go between” between your neighbor and the Lord for their sake. We do not appreciate either as a gift if we only compare the pastoral office and the royal priesthood of believers with each other in terms of who does what – each is a unique gift. If one upholds a confessional understanding of the duties of the pastoral office in regard to administering the Lord’s Supper, and if it is still asserted that the pastor could not commune himself, then one is left with the also untenable position of the pastor communing only at pastors’ conferences (and only among other pastors!). So where there is one pastor, and since he too needs the forgiveness of sins given in the Holy Supper, the pastor rightly distinguishes between his person and his office and benefits from the Lord’s Supper that way also – just as he does in absolution or when the Scriptures are proclaimed. So in the Formula of Concord’s denial that, “No man’s word or work, be it the merit or speaking of the minister,” brings about the real presence is not to deny that the body and blood are, “distributed through our ministry and office” (cf. FC-SD, VII.74-77).

When an elder or deacon assists the pastor in the general distribution to the congregation, he does that as an extension (auxiliary) of the pastor for the sake of the rest of the people and for good order. In conclusion, it is certainly proper and well within orthodox Lutheran practice (and historic Christianity) for the pastor, in distinguishing his person and office, to commune himself in the midst of the congregation in the Divine Service. So the pastor also benefits from the sermon and absolution he speaks within the congregation – his individual person benefits from the ministry of the pastoral office for the church.

Rev. John A. Frahm
Gloria Christi Lutheran Church
Greeley, Colorado

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Is it wrong for the pastor to “commune himself” in the Divine Service? — 39 Comments

  1. Rev. Frahm,

    This sentence intrigues me: “…the sad fact was that during Pietism those pastors did not want to be seen communing, lest the congregation think the pastor had sins!” Could you give some evidence to support that claim (that Pietist pastors did not want their congregations to think they sinned)?

  2. As long as everyone else receives the body and blood there is nothing wrong with the Pastor communing himself. Some may be concerned because it has become prevalent for Roman priests to commune themselves first giving themselves both wine and host and only the host only to the rest of the parish.

    As to the piety question I believe it was more of an issue with only a few Pastors and parishes that fell into error regarding confusion of Law and Gospel. Thankfully all the Pastors I know are fully aware of their sin and we love them anyway!:)

  3. Are we saying that a layman should not distribute to the Pastor that which the Pastor is administering? On what basis can a layman distribute to other laypeople but not to the pastor?

    I find some satisfaction for some reason in receiving the body and blood of Christ with the bread and wine from a dedicated elder and I believe they are pleased to do it also. We draw closer together. They know the difference between administering and distributing.

    It always seems strange to me that some pastors feel that they can only receive communion from fellow pastors at circuit meetings away from their own congregations.

  4. @Rev. Steven W Bohler #1

    Not sure if I’ll have time to do so, but if I can I’ll post it here. If someone else finds such historical references, feel free to post it. But at this point I’ll say that this is completely consistent with the more crass forms of Pietism where the Divine Service was largely sidelined and the ministry came to be about “leadership” and example (due to the influx of Calvinism into “Lutheranism”) and “levels of sanctification” came to be at the forefront. I especially recommend for your reading V.E. Loescher, The Complete TImotheus Verinus from Northwestern Publishing House as well as the Luther Academy volume on Pietism from Logia books.

  5. @Richard Lewer #3

    Are we saying that a layman should not distribute to the Pastor that which the Pastor is administering? On what basis can a layman distribute to other laypeople but not to the pastor?

    On the basis that it would make the pastor look less important.

  6. “The pastor and those who assist him receive the body and blood of Christ first”

    Why first? I never noticed that rubric before. I’m the pastor of a little mission and I commune myself last. I didn’t see any theological significance either way, but it seemed only polite to serve everyone else first. My drinking after everyone else also helps undermine any squeamish objections to using the common cup.

  7. Perhaps it’s worth stepping back, and asking a very Lutheran question: which one of these arguably reasonable and theologically acceptable practices is the traditional historical practice of the Church, and which is the innovation?
    I suspect that the practice of the pastor quietly communing himself prior to the distribution was the historical practice at the time of the reformation, and that Luther kept it because it could be continued “w/o sin, or great inconvenience” (Apology XV.) If I’m right, that puts the burden of proof on the shoulders of the innovators, not those advocating the more catholic position. Was Luther wrong? Is there a theological reason that makes a pastor quietly communing himself prior to the distribution sinful or greatly inconvenient? If not, we start sounding like the CoWo crowd if we insist on adopting an unnecessary innovation. If we are going to quote “without a reasonable cause nothing in customary rites be changed, but that, in order to cherish harmony, such old customs be observed” to the CoWo folks, we should perhaps practice it amongst ourselves.
    Returning to this historical practice should probably be done pastorally and patiently so as not to offend the weak, and as the more recent practice is not sinful or heterodox in and of itself, it shouldn’t be attacked, but I would expect that Confessional pastors would envy rather than oppose brothers who have been able to return their flocks to the historical practice.
    Christmas Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  8. Rev. Crandall,

    I assume that the pastor communes first because he needs that which the Sacrament gives; then, after he has received it, he gives it to the rest.

  9. Matthew,

    Is “historical” that which happened in the greatest antiquity, or, in this case, is “historical” that which the people are used to. It seems to me that in the case of Luther, he did not want to change that which the people were used to unless there was a doctrinal problem. It seems that this is what Luther is referring to in he quote about not making unnecessary changes. He is not talking about going to an older tradition but about keeping what the people are used to.

    Why change that which is not wrong (having a layman distribute to the pastor) just because in the more distant past it was done another way?

    Is that which is oldest necessarily the best? Is that which is liturgically correct governed by the which has the most antiquity? Does liturgical renewal mean going back in the past as far as we can or does it mean making the liturgy meaningful and theologically clear? It seems to me that the “liturgical renewal” people have sometimes gotten off the track.

  10. @Richard Lewer #11
    Not all liturgical development is good, and not all liturgical development is bad. We keep the boat, but scrape the barnacles. The trick is often how to separate the one from the other.

    Bottom line: if the rubrics allow for either practice, than we should accept both. That being said, if folks ARE going to fight over which one is better, and certainly if they are going to assert that only ONE is correct, I still say the newer practice bears the burden of proof. (This is especially true if the historical practice was accepted by the Lutheran Reformers, and fell out of practice first amongst the Halle Pietists.)

    Finally, and this is clearly a secondary consideration, but neither Luther’s liturgical reforms, nor Apology XV were entirely sectarian. It was not just a matter of keeping the non-sinful elements Lutherans were used to as ex-Romans, there was also the desire, out of love, to observe adiaphora with others.

    Christmas Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  11. #4 Kitty :
    @Richard Lewer #3

    Are we saying that a layman should not distribute to the Pastor that which the Pastor is administering? On what basis can a layman distribute to other laypeople but not to the pastor?

    On the basis that it would make the pastor look less important.

    distinct rather than important ought to do…

  12. @Ted Crandall #8

    I, too, commune last, for much the same reasons as you have stated – servants serve others first and self last, and it answers though action the squeamish objections of those communing via the chalice. My other thought was that it provides me the opportunity to completely consume what remains in the chalice – which really is a corollary to the “answer squeamish objections.” We reserve the unconsumed elements in separate containers to make sure that they return to the altar to be distributed in the Sacrament. Those who were squeamish about drinking after someone else were also squeamish about the “contaminated” wine remaining in the chalice being mixed with the “sterile” wine from the individual cups. So I consume the wine remaining in the chalice at the end of the distribution. If I were to do so having communed first (the “ablution,” as is the custom in Rome), I think my parishioners would object or be confused on the basis that pastor is “communing twice.”

    Those who have expressed concern to me about the practice of pastor communing last have done so along the same lines as @Rev. Steven W Bohler #10 , or, to use the Word of our Lord through St. Paul: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you…” (1 Cor. 11:23) While pastor communing first does help underscore this by way of analogy, pastor communing last does not negate this principle. It is only if the pastor abstains from communing at all that this principle is negated.

    A concern that I have regarding the objection above is that it can (not of necessity, but often does) dovetail with an erroneous concept of a quantitative dispensing of grace in the Sacrament. I have heard some pastors describe it as the “gas-station model” of the Sacrament: Pastor has to top off his “grace-tank” before he can start filling up the grace-tanks of others. Does the sacrament bestow upon the recipient a quantity of God’s grace on account of Christ (against which actual sins withdraw certain amounts) and you come to the Sacrament when the tank is getting near empty? Or does the Sacrament proclaim (and bestow through that proclamation) the quality of being favored by God on account of Christ’s work for us (favor Dei propter Christum)?

    Another, practical, rationale I have heard for the pastor and assistant(s) communing first is that typically such distribution takes place during the singing of the Agnus Dei, thus allowing the congregation (or the first few pews, at least) to complete that canticle undistracted by the walking forward for the distribution.

  13. @PPPadre #15
    At our church no ones moves during the Agnus Dei, as it is the first prayer we sing to the Holy Lamb of God after the consecration. We all give complete focus to the altar in reverence with our hands folded. It is not “moving music”. Something for everyone to think about.

  14. @PPPadre #15

    @Ted Crandall #8
    Dear Pastors,
    You have both always impressed me with your comments and faithfulness, but the hairs on the back of my neck (about the only ones I have left btw) stand up whenever pastors start messing w/ the liturgy and rubrics because they have discovered a way to make it more meaningful to their flock. The real difference between us and the CoWo folks is not that their creative ideas (let’s use the youth to mime the Gospel this week!) are bad and ours (let’s move where the pastor communes) are good. The difference is not a matter of degree, but a matter of kind. Respectfully, the liturgy isn’t a blank canvas for your creativity. Nothing prevents you from communing first, and then reverently finishing off the chalice at the end of the Lord’s Supper, but please pastors “say the black, and do the red.” Let’s leave the “good idea fairy”-anarchy to the Schwärmeri.
    Christmas Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  15. Fine article, Father Frahm.

    I commune myself first and last, to follow the rubrics (“do the red”) and to consume what remains.

    A caution: It is not given to lay men to distribute (See AC XIV). Assisting is a different matter, where the men are not actually distributing in their own person, but acting as (as one pastor put it) a movable cart to carry the elements. When a “lay elder” communes the pastor, there is a subtle confusion of the office of the “called elder”. Maybe the problem is that we should never have adopted the title of “elder” for a lay office from the Calvinists.

    In today’s climate of confusion over the Office of the Ministry, it is especially important that we keep things distinct, as another poster put it.

  16. @Matthew Mills #17 :
    Respectfully, the liturgy isn’t a blank canvas for your creativity.

    Matthew,

    Thank you for your observation. Please understand that as a rubric, this instruction for pastors to commune first was not actually in our hymnals until the publication of Lutheran Worship. The congregation I serve never adopted LW and was using TLH until we changed to LSB just a few years ago. So our practice of pastor communing last was not a blatant disregard for “doing the red,” but in the absence of direction in the red, an effort to do things in a good and efficient order within our parochial context.

    When faced with a “new” rubric in our new hymnal, we were faced with making a choice between the (or, more properly, “our”) historical practice and the new (to us) rubric. As there were several of these instances to deal with in our practice, I have chosen to focus first on “re-learning” those “new” rubrics which existed in our former hymnal but that had been ignored/changed in past practice.

  17. So what makes the Lords Supper a Sacrament? I believe it is the BREAD, WINE, and WORDS OF INSTITUTION (whether spoken by a minister or a layman). That’s it!

    It need only be believed and that’s the rub. For the sake of the weak in faith Paul says “let all things be done for building up… done decently and in order.

    For this reason, only the clergy SHOULD perform the words of institution. Other traditions that promote order are also helpful but let us not run afoul of Mt 15:9.

    As a (lay) elder I will strive to promote a Liturgical/Ecumenical service. But if approached by a novice who has concerns whether a certain ritual is efficacious I will focus on the presence of bread, wine, God’s Word and His promise in order to “build him up.”

    Walther, in “Church and Ministry” Thesis VII, Part II quotes Balthasar Meisner: “The order does not domineer the sacrament but serves it. The order exists for the sake of the sacraments; the sacraments do not exist for the sake of the order.”

  18. @PPPadre #19
    Thanks Pastor,

    I hope I didn’t give you the impression that I considered moving the pastor’s reception of the Lord’s Supper as a “blatant” disregard for the rubrics. Even without your explanation, this isn’t a huge deal in and of itself. The thin-end-of-the-wedge/ slippery-slope problem I see in this string is the discussion of variation from the liturgy and rubrics based on which practice is a better symbol of __________ (fill in the blank.) I was concerned because that quickly starts to look like the posts we’ve seen from CoWo folks supporting their (extravagantly blatant) innovations. Telling the CoWo folks “don’t color outside the lines” is straightforward, and easy, but if we’re coloring outside the lines ourselves, we end up with the much harder and messier task of convincing them that their picture is ugly. It’s cleaner to stay well clear of that precipice.
    Christmas Blessings+,
    Matt Mills

  19. @Kelly #20
    I’m a layman on my board of elders as well, but Luther’s stated belief was that even a reverent faithful laymen presiding over the Lord’s Supper was “only playing church, and deceving his hearers.” I can’t speak for Pastor Eckert, but I assume he intended to type “AC XIV.”
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  20. @Matthew Mills #23
    I’m in complete agreement with you. For the sake of order, the laity should NOT administer the sacraments. It is part of our confessional basis. But notice that AC XIV is “Order in the Church,” not “The Lord’s Supper.” The laity do not administer the sacraments so that our weaker brother may have no doubt in their efficacy not that the sacraments are invalidated by the laity.

    My primary point is that if the Word and elements are properly present, why should we complain if a congregation communes their paster at a different time? Is it not orderly? The push for the ecumenical seems to be rather harsh, immediate and at the expense of order. We must not give the impression that current practice is ineffective and thereby cause our brother to doubt.

    YES, order is very important. Is attacking another congregation’s adiaphora decent and orderly? Is the LSB part of our confessional basis?

  21. @Matthew Mills #23
    Matt,

    By the way, one of my favorite sayings is: “It’s better for the wicked Pastor to administer the sacraments than for the righteous elders to do so.” 😉

    Cheers,
    Kelly

  22. Noreen Linke :
    @PPPadre #15
    At our church no ones moves during the Agnus Dei, as it is the first prayer we sing to the Holy Lamb of God after the consecration. We all give complete focus to the altar in reverence with our hands folded. It is not “moving music”. Something for everyone to think about.

    I agree with you, Noreen. I can’t imagine it as traveling music.

    I have never seen anyone move during the Agnus Dei in my life, except the pastor emeritus at my COO (church of origin), who would walk into the chancel area, fully robed, hands clasped together, absolutely beaming with joy in anticipation of receiving and assisting with the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament.

    He and the parish pastor would commune each other, in profile to the congregation, after which the laity would be ushered forward to commune at the rail, in orderly fashion.

  23. Scripture and the Confessions support the pastor as the one called to administer sacraments. That he preaches to himself, absolves himself, teaches himself, and communes himself is in keeping with God’s Word, to be sure. There is no problem here. When administering holy communion to the homebound he communes himself, obviously, and in the congregational mass he does so also. Blessed eating and drinking of the holy body and blood of our Lord!

  24. @Kelly #20
    What makes the Sacrament? Better question: *Who* makes the Sacrament? Answer: Christ. Who is His authorized mouthpiece? The “rite vocatus” pastor.

    The *best* answer I can give when someone not “rite vocatus” called into that Office/Duty/Vocation “presides” at the altar, even when he makes the sounds of the words of institution (which the Reformed do, but *undo* by their confession, such that they do not have the Sacrament), is, “I don’t know.”

    Can someone usurp the Office or its duties? Inasmuch as it’s *Christ’s* Office, obviously not.

  25. @Kelly #24
    I don’t want to ignore your questions, but I’m not sure where you are going with them.

    Our confessions say both that:
    1) human traditions neither save nor damn, and
    2) that we follow all of the portions of historical western liturgy that are not sinful for the sake of unity.

    We’ve got an infestation of pastors in the LCMS who say instead that because “the liturgy is adiophora” (really?) we are free to worship however we please, so long as we can give a plausable explanation of what we gain for our rejection of unity.

    As I told PPPadre above, moving when the pastor communes isn’t a huge deal in and of itself. He and others who have tweaked the hymnal a bit are not the real problem, but what do we gain by playing closer to the edge than we need to?

    I assume I’m missing something.

  26. @Rev. David Mueller #29

    “…I don’t know…”

    My point exactly! Doubt is introduced. Hence the confession (AC XIV) which I completely support.

    I just finished Walther’s Church and Ministry so the material is still congealing. I appreciate the different viewpoints.

  27. @Matthew Mills #30

    My questions were rhetorical so I wasn’t looking for an answer. But since you did, please provide a reference supporting your second assertion. I’m not aware of where that is specifically and so strongly stated in our confessions. Thanks in advance as I’m always looking to improve.

    I believe being Liturgical and Ecumenical is a good thing. Yes, our synod is far from ecumenical which needs to be worked on. But if we can clearly answer the question, “Why should we be ecumenical?” we’ll do much to improve the situation.

    Instead, most of the time is spent pointing out and condemning differences simply because they are different. When, for the sake of being ecumenical, we begin discussing sacramental ceremonies we need to proceed with extreme caution so as not to introduce doubt. A sacrament can still truly be the sacrament without being ecumenical. Please, let’s not denigrate a valid sacrament.

    As an earlier post mentioned, many of the practices still in place today were completely compliant with the liturgies of the day when they were introduced. We should exercise some loving patience as congregations slowly transition through education to the LSB liturgies. The greater concern is not that some congregations are not transitioning fast enough but that some that do change are becoming less ecumenical.

  28. @Rev. David Mueller #29
    The *best* answer I can give when someone not “rite vocatus” called into that Office/Duty/Vocation “presides” at the altar, even when he makes the sounds of the words of institution (which the Reformed do, but *undo* by their confession, such that they do not have the Sacrament), is, “I don’t know.”

    I don’t know either, so I’m not going there.

    Re the Pastor communing himself: Of course it’s not wrong. And I wish the assisting Elder would stick to being a “silent tray holder”.

  29. @Kelly #32

    When seen in the light of AC VII, XIV, and XXIV, the Lord’s Supper is ecumenical by its witnessing to what those who partake of it confess–namely all articles of doctrine in common. (closed communion) The visible self-communion of the called and ordained servant of the Word is proper. For it is an assurance to those gathered that their shepherd confesses with them that which the Words of Christ’s institution declare. Then, having communed himself, the pastor gives that which he has spoken in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to us gathered at the altar. I find this really wholesome a practice, especially in congregations having only one pastor.

  30. @Kelly #32
    Apology XV on human traditions is long, but pretty good. it ends w/:

    51] And nevertheless we teach that in these matters the use of liberty is to be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended, and, on account of the abuse of liberty, may not become more hostile to the true doctrine of the Gospel, or that without a reasonable cause nothing in customary rites be changed, but that, in order to cherish harmony, such old customs be observed as can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience. 52] And in this very assembly we have shown sufficiently that for love’s sake we do not refuse to observe adiaphora with others, even though they should have some disadvantage; but we have judged that such public harmony as could indeed be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages [all other less important matters]. But concerning this entire subject we shall speak after a while, when we shall treat of vows and ecclesiastical power.

    My point is: once we open the “Why should we be ecumenical?” can of worms, we’ve lost. Lutherans are by confession “ecumenical.” It goes w/ the quia subscription. The best answer to a heterodox pastor’s good reasons for abandoning the historical liturgy is: we observe such old customs as can be observed w/o sin, and we prefer unity of practice and public harmony to all other advantages. The burden of proof is not on our shoulders, but theirs, and they need to prove that the liturgical elements they are rejecting are “sinful” or “greatly inconvenient.”

    As I wrote above, if we hold the line ourselves, the confession is clearer. Telling the CoWo folks “don’t color outside the lines” is straightforward, and easy, but if we’re coloring outside the lines ourselves, we end up with the much harder and messier task of convincing them that their picture is ugly. It’s cleaner to stay well clear of that.

    Pax Christi+,
    Matt Mills

  31. # 35: “Lutherans are by confession “ecumenical.” It goes w/ the quia subscription.”

    You must mean “ecumenical” in its true sense, that we are united in Christ and therefore have unity with each other. Too many in the church think it means we abandon the Word of God (both the Bible and the Lamb) in order to hold hands with the world and sing Koombaya together (as was done at Yankee Stadium in 2001). Don’t kid yourself — while the world attacks us for being rigid, they refuse to move an inch to join us, yet they “hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.” Why is no one pointing out how rigid that is?

  32. @Ted Crandall #36
    Dear Pastor,
    My sense was that “Kelly” was using the term in lieu of the “C-word” (catholic) that’s why I put it in quotes. (Like we confess the “3 ecumenical creeds”.)
    Reat “ecumenical worship” means the Western liturgy, I don’t do kum-bye-ya.

  33. @ Matthew Mills
    In the language of Saturday Night Live, “Never mind.” (How embarrassing.)
    I was with the Navy Chaplain Corps too long, where “ecumenical” meant having a joint service with Christians and Jews, then having two serving windows at the one service — one serving a Seder and the other Holy Communion. (I’m not making this up! The Chief of Chaplains publicized the event in his newsletter, prodding the rest of us to be “ecumenical” like those clowns.)

  34. @Ted Crandall #38
    That doesn’t surprise me at all Pastor. As a retired USAF officer I can say that the military chaplaincy is one of the most challenging place a Confessional Lutheran pastor can serve. (As long as we send service-members we need to send Chaplains, but what a mess.)
    Thanks for your service!
    -Matt Mills

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