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Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.





04 April 2009

Closed Communion Note for Palm Sunday


Lord's SupperOccasionally, when time and space allow, I write a seasonal note on our communion practices for the bulletin. Here is the one for Palm Sunday at Holy Cross:

The Lord’s Supper: The untrained eye thinks that it witnesses a triumph on Palm Sunday that becomes a tragedy on Good Friday. The eye of faith, however, sees that Palm Sunday’s “triumph” would have been a tragedy if Jesus had entered Jerusalem only to become an earthly king. Faith’s eye also recognizes the apparent “tragedy” of Golgotha as Jesus’ complete triumph over sin and devil.

Likewise, many eyes do not see the fulness of the gift received in Holy Communion, often denying the true presence of Jesus’ body and blood or doubting the very real forgiveness of sins that is ours in this meal. We desire no communicants to eat and drink to their own condemnation. Therefore, we commune only those who have been instructed in the Faith and who confess an evangelical Lutheran understanding of the Sacrament and all of Holy Scripture.

Visitors from churches not in full fellowship with us are asked to respect this Biblical teaching and refrain from partaking of the Holy Sacrament. Those desiring to join this fellowship are encouraged to talk to the pastor about instruction class.

Please see Admission to the Altar at Ask the Pastor for more on this topic.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate the fact that the way your "Closed Communion" note is worded, it is still broad enough to those of us in the ELCA, or even visitors from the WELS, ELS, CLC, or AFL, to feel welcome and come on up for communion. As Lutherans, our eyes, "See the fullness of the gift received in Holy Communion," and we do not deny, "the true presence of Jesus’ body and blood,"or doubt. "the very real forgiveness of sins that is ours in this meal."

Fortunately, your note says nothing about having to be a member of a "Missouri Synod congregation" for there to be "fellowship," but only asks, "Visitors from churches not in full fellowship with us are asked to respect this Biblical teaching and refrain from partaking of the Holy Sacrament." So, since we both share the name Lutheran and give reverence to the Biblical teachings and principals set forth by Dr. Martin Luther, being a member of a "Lutheran" congregation seems to be sufficient, since you explain, "[W]e commune only those who have been instructed in the Faith and who confess an evangelical Lutheran understanding of the Sacrament and all of Holy Scripture." Well, ELCA, WELS, ELS, CLC, or AFL, have all "been instructed in the Faith, "and "confess an evangelical Lutheran understanding of the Sacrament."

So, test time . . . I'm kneeling before you and Christ said, "People will come from east and west and north and south and sit together in the kingdom of God," . . . are you going to have a true "feast of thanksgiving" and practice eucharistic hospitality, in the manner our Lord would want, or send some people away hungry as the disciples wanted before Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves and two small fish?

I'm waiting . . . and, fortunately I see a round wafer placed in my open hands and hear the words, "The Body of Christ." I can now answer, "Amen," and at that moment we are "in union" with one another, but not because of being LCMS, ELCA, WELS, ELS, CLC, AFL, United Methodist, Southern Baptist, PCUSA, or whatever different label may mark the "communicant," but because in Christ we are made one.

Hope this helps you to always err on the side of inclusiveness and next year on Palm Sunday publish a "Communion Explanation" and not a "Closed Communion" note.

May 13, 2009 at 9:21 PM  
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June 23, 2016 at 12:08 AM  

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