Holy Communion is one of our greatest sacraments, so it’s somewhat depressing to see it often taken so lightly. Perhaps some of it is arrogance, but I do take great offence to seeing communion not being done proper. That is one reason that I am so grateful to be a part of a church that takes it so seriously. When I see other churches who practice it differently, I often wonder how seriously they actually take the scriptures. Sometimes, it’s obvious through their preaching. Other times, it can be clearly seen by how they treat communion. Many protestant church view communion as symbolic and once you do that, it stands to reason that such a church can only go down hill from there. Christ never said, “This represents My body which is given for you.” No, he specifically said “This is My body which is given for you.”
So, we see here that the bread is His body. If the bread is His body, than it cannot just be substituted for any old thing such as Oreos. It has to be bread. Now, some people may criticize us Lutherans for using cheap little wafers, but here’s the thing; it’s still bread. A cookie is just a cookie and a Fig Newton is just fruit and cake, but a wafer, a loaf of rye, or even a tortilla in extreme cases is still bread and Christ said that the bread is his body.
Likewise, Jesus did not say, “Drink of it, all of you, for this represents my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” No, He specifically said, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” So we see that the wine is His blood. It can’t be substituted with anything else. I know many churches like to use grape juice, but here’s the problem with that; grape juice isn’t wine. In fact, grape juice is created in such a way that it never even gets the chance to become close to wine. It’s not wine nor will it ever be wine. Wine, dealcoholized wine, and wine diluted with water have one thing in common: they’re all still wine.
When you start substituting the wine and the bread for other things, you’re basically saying Jesus didn’t mean what He said. And if Jesus didn’t mean what he said, well, then your entire hope of salvation is folly. You have no hope because the words of scripture no longer mean anything because you have just clearly stated with your choices that Christ did not mean what He said and if He didn’t mean what He said, then the Bible is just a book of life tips and not the Word of God. We Lutherans don’t try to explain how it is both body and bread, both wine and blood, as the Roman Catholics do. We just take Christ at His word and accept that what He said is true.
And what’s with church only doing communion once every month, few months, year, etc.? This is something that Christ Himself commanded as a regular occurrence. Why? For two fold reasons! 1) Within the body and blood of Christ is the forgiveness of sins. 2) Because when we do so we are proclaiming the gospel! Scripture testifies to this specifically and since we are called to go and make disciples by proclaiming the gospel, why would we not regularly partake in Holy Communion? Think about what this means! When an atheist wanders into your church and sits quietly in the back, even if you never speak to him, by receiving Christ’s body and blood you are proclaiming the gospel to him. Knowing this, how could you not take communion week in and week out?