I did a blog awhile ago on the Lord’s Supper and I have wanted to pick that discussion up in more detail because this is a real sore spot with people who try to make this out to be some sort of egalitarian issue. It’s not and I need you to put aside your prejudices, and your idea that it’s all about you, it’s not, it’s about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I intend to do a series of blogs on this, the issue is not as simple as many would like to make it out to be, the reason why I’m doing it in a series of discussions.
The Lutheran view of the Lord’s supper is unique in Christianity. There are two sacraments in the Lutheran Church, baptism, where the Holy Spirit gives the recipient new life, they are born again in Christ. The Holy Spirit becomes part of that person and that person becomes a child of God. The second is the Lord’s Supper, where we receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus. As God’s child, we receive our Savior’s Body and Blood in order to be assured of our forgiveness by Jesus’ sacrifice and to receive the nourishment that we need as I say ” to strengthen body and soul to life everlasting”.
So here’s the rub, this is exclusive, you have to be baptized, a triune baptism, and you have to be a member of the Lutheran Church. This is not to impose some arbitrary exclusivism, this is to honor and treat with great reverence the Body and Blood of our Savior. We are in agreement with Roman Catholics that the Lord’s Supper is about the true Body and Blood. We however disagree on the means, but that will be part of a later discussion in this series and yes that difference is a fundamental issue.
I don’t make membership a long process or jumping through hoops. I take people through what we are about, why we do what we do and to impress upon people that it is about God, not about us. A lot of the discussion in the previous post was in the sense of “that’s not fair to me”, “I should have what anyone else has”, “Why can’t I”, etc, etc. Basically, it’s all about me and how I should be treated and very little in terms of treating the Lord’s Body and Blood with due and extreme reverence. I am a Lutheran pastor, I take the responsibility of administering the Lord’s Body and Blood with the utmost reverence and giving me arguments that it’s all about me is not going to be received with any respect and is just not valid. After I go through instructions, we take time during worship to ask them if they understand the teachings of the Lutheran Church and if they vow to abide by these teachings. This is the sense of a wedding, as I wrote about in an earlier blog, we treat weddings as worship, taking vows, making promises in the presence of God and brothers and sisters in Jesus. We do the same with membership, that you understand what we are doing and you promise before God and brothers and sisters that you will honor and uphold these teachings. It’s not your call, it’s what Scripture tells us it is. I am retired enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. Every four years I had to re-enlist and take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I took those vows very seriously and I should, my country is important. But by far God is more important. If I take the U.S. Constitution seriously, I take God much more seriously. When people take a vow before God you need to take it seriously. At that point, knowing that they understand and accept the Church’s teaching, I with great joy welcome them into the Church and happily give them the Lord’s Body and Blood, there is no higher act, the Body and Blood that was sacrificed to pay for our sins and to give us the assurance of life everlasting in the Resurrection. Why someone thinks I should take that less than seriously is totally bizarre to me. In short, those of a Reformed, Arminian or other Protestant, non-denominational etc church do not have this understanding, why would they with any integrity still insist on taking the Lord’s Body and Blood?
It is a very deep issue and deserves much more discussion than the superficial treatment given by many other Christian churches. I welcome you to join in that discussion as I try to honor the Body and Blood in subsequent blogs.
Rev Dr Kurowski quotes the following in his book and it underscores the discussion about how our worldly attitude towards the Lord’s Supper is just not valid, God tells us what it is and that is what we honor and not our “opinion”: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the mind of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as servants for Jesus sake.” (2 Corinthians 4: 4-5)
I would highly recommend a book by Rev Dr Peter Kurowski on the discussion of close/closed communion “Close Communion Conversations”. I am sure your order will be happily received at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-CMS-1962