Lord’s Supper: Open or Closed

Open or closed?I was recently chatting with another brother in the ministry. He is an older gentleman and serving his second parish. He told me something that was bothersome: he doesn’t think that he will be able to remain in The LCMS. Upon hearing this, I asked him why. He proceeded to tell me that he has some personal issues he’s been struggling with. The doctrine of The LCMS is not the issue. It’s the practice; namely, the practice of the Lord’s Supper.

With regards to the Lord’s Supper, we practice close(d) communion. That means that if you are not a member of a congregation of The LCMS or another Lutheran church body that we are in altar/pulpit fellowship with, then we do not permit you to come to the Lord’s Table. Why do we take such a stance like this? “The Lutheran church believes, teaches and confesses that the Lord’s Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, given to us Christians to eat and to drink. We hold that the bread and the wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ and that these are given and received into the mouths of all who commune.”1 This is the official policy and doctrine of The LCMS. We look at what Holy Scripture says with regards to the Lord’s Supper. St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:26-29, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore,whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

Unfortunately, not every LCMS congregation abides by that. That is where this pastor’s troubles lie: doctrine and practice do not match. As far as he sees it, no one is doing anything about the issue of open communion. Open communion is the practice of allowing members of another church-body (or sometimes even faith) to commune. In short, it’s a “Y’all come” mentality, regardless of a person’s beliefs.

Including his current circuit, he has served in three different circuits (1 as a vicar, 2 as a pastor). Unfortunately, this is the “best” circuit he has served in. In this circuit, open communion is rampant. He has even had discussions with his district president with regards to open communion. Unfortunately, those discussions did not go well. Serving in the Wyoming District, open communion is not an issue. I do not have to worry about the kind of church a member of mine will visit while on vacation in Wyoming. However, that cannot be said for all of the districts, including the district in which this fellow brother serves.

Last time I checked, the congregations of The LCMS all had to abide by the synodical constitution. That also meant abiding by our policy of the Lord’s Supper. I must have missed the memo that said pastors and/or congregations were free to choose which parts of our doctrine they wanted to follow and those parts they want to throw out.

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One thought on “Lord’s Supper: Open or Closed

  1. very good reading…God is good and knows our hearts…the last church i was in he didn’t believe this. he would OCCASIONALLY have the Lord supper (maybe 2 times a year) and would be the judge on who took communion he would say examine your heart but he would make a person feel they was not worthy to be allowed to drink let alone take bread without doing his own form of judgment..than when certain people wouldn’t take communion( me included) he would have a sermon on us about us being not worthy and such…when i became a Lutheran and in st. Paul’s i took a step back and watched BUT i didn’t have to watch long to know this is Gods plan for me to be a Lutheran i took my classes and became a Lutheran and each time i take communion i examine myself and know i am worthy to take communion I AM NOT A AWESOME CHRISTIAN but i am a Christian saved by grace and i thank God for saving me and my wicked sinful life…i am a sinner but through Christ He saved me from Going to Hell and He forgives my sins and if a preacher is called to be a man of God he has no right to say a person is to wicked to take communion and doesn’t deserve to take communion and than when they don’t than he will preach on it like he is with out sin..God is my judge and i spent toooo long in the other church to see the stuff i saw and experienced Pastor Shadday is an awesome man and i am very proud to say i love him and am so blessed he is my Pastor and he doesn’t judge me for missing a Sunday of church and he lets me know he is human and a sinner too He is awesome but i don’t have to tell you this you were blessed to have some teachings from him..God bless you Jared and thank you for being a man of God… Love in Christ Linda Switzer A St. Paul’s Lutheran

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