Category Archives: Sacraments

Common Bread, Common Cup

There are some things I liked better about my old church over my current one. Not much, the preaching was an abomination, but some things. One thing in particular that sticks out to me, however, was the Lord’s supper, also known as communion. I never participated in my old church because I wasn’t baptized and I technically wasn’t a member, but the way they did always seemed a little more proper. Before I continue, I want to state that I can find nothing theologically wrong with the way my church does the Lord’s supper, I just like the way my old ELCA church did it a little better.

The church I attend is probably quite like yours when it comes to communion. When you receive the body of Christ, you are fed a tiny round piece of flat bread. When you receive his blood, you probably have the choice of taking from the cup or “doing a shot” as I jokingly refer to it. It’s truly an incredible experience and blessing to be a part of this each Sunday, but a part of me (probably from personal opinions mostly) prefers a slightly different method.

Common bread: Over at the ELCA church I attended, something that stood out as powerful was when it came time to show the bread. My pastor then did not have a wafer but instead a small loaf of bread. I always suspected they made it at the church because it was a tiny thing and didn’t look terribly professional. And when he announced the breaking of the bread, he would break the loaf in two. Up until this point, it’s all just visual effects that play on emotions really, but it was when he fed the body of Christ that I always found so incredible. He would hold half the loaf in one hand and break off a tiny piece and feed it to the communicant with the other. That part always struck me as deeply symbolic. Everybody is eating a piece of the same loaf, IE, everyone is partaking in the same body. I’m not saying that by eating the wafer we are all eating from a different body. Not at all. But physically seeing it all come from the same bread, piece by piece, wow, that’s powerful. I’ve always wondered how the ELCA could show so much reverence in their liturgy and Holy communion, but totally collapse in the sermon and basic theology.

Common Cup: I can understand that there are a plethora of reasons for not drinking from the same cup as everyone else, so I’m not going to get into that. I’ll just get into the reason why I feel we should. “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”” Jesus gave the cup to his disciples to drink. Not cups, but cup. This is how it was instituted by God. Do I feel the little “shot glasses” are not valid? By no means. The Lord’s Word is present in the wine given at the altar, regardless of the vessel we put it in. But do I feel it diminishes, even if only symbolically, the importance of the Lord’s supper? I must say that I do. Here’s a great resource that delves into it much better than I ever could.

Again, what I have to say may just be my own opinion, but I feel they’re something important to think about.

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The Lord’s Supper and Alcohol-Removed Wines

A common area of pastoral concern regarding Holy Communion centers on the responsible communing of those with health issues related to alcohol (e.g. alcohol intolerance; medication reactions; alcoholism). There may also be members of a parish who have an aversion to alcohol due to some past experience in their lives.

First and foremost, every one of these cases is going to require individual pastoral care: discussion, prayer, and study of the scriptures together.

Questions arise from time to time – and in fact I came across one posted to Twitter overnight – concerning what may be used for the elements? For example: “Is it alright to use gluten-free hosts?” Another question (this is the question linked to above): “Is it permissible to use non-alcohol or alcohol-removed wine in the Supper?”

First, it is not in keeping with our Lord’s institution nor faithful…

Click here to continue reading the rest of the article.

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Proper Communion

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?

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