A recent letter to Reporter on every-Sunday Communion begs a reply. The well-intended writer seems to bemoan the increased frequency of Communion as having an adverse effect on a pious tradition of a bygone age, when people felt that Holy Communion “seemed more meaningful” when celebrated less often and when they behaved with more spiritual devotion, with fasting, etc. The flip side of this reasoning is that if one celebrates the Lord’s Supper more frequently, it will seem less meaningful.
This reasoning has long been a sad heritage of the Lutheran Church. Even the simple, often-used analogy of whether eating one meal a day is more meaningful than eating three has failed to eradicate this illogical thinking. Surely, if the Lord’s Supper is all we claim it to be in our Confessions, then we ought to celebrate it at least weekly and encourage our members to increased devotional piety through fasting, prayer, and self-examination.
Here’s a thesis for discussion: May a congregation or church council “vote” on how frequently Holy Communion — the Real Presence of Christ — will be celebrated in a Lutheran congregation?
Rev. John H. Weldon
By having Communion too often, the reasoning goes, it will become less meaningful and those receiving it will not prize it for what it is. If we follow that line of thinking, we would do nothing habitually, because it would “devalue” the act.
We don’t limit our prayer in fear that it will become “mechanical.”
In point of fact, it should become a habit! Such habits are godly. Can Christians engage in prayer in a meaningless fashion? Of course. So, how do we correct that? By praying less frequently? No. By repenting and asking God for forgiveness.
Can receiving Holy Communion every Sunday promote “mindless” reception? Most certainly. When my congregation studied this issue, we asked ourselves this very question. What was the solution? Repentance. For if we truly see ourselves as the wretched creatures we are, if we truly despair of our own ability in preparation to receive the grace of Christ, then we will look to receive that grace where God has promised to give it — in this case in the Lord’s Supper.
Rev. Rick Pettey
I have been concerned over what I sense to be a judgmental attitude toward those who appreciate and enjoy weekly reception of our Lord’s body and blood in the Sacrament. Certainly, it can become the thing to do and without thought, but only the communicant can know this.
I have at times attended LCMS congregations other than my own who celebrate the sacrament weekly for the strength Christ provides in the Sacrament and which I sorely need.
Dr. Paul Meyer
Walnut Creek, Calif.
As I get older, I find myself dealing more and more with the haunting memories of Vietnam. More than 30 years ago, I came to understand the kind of person I was capable of being and it was not a pretty sight. It was totally against everything I had learned in Sunday school in the 1950s and against what my grandfather taught me.
I used to take Communion only once a quarter, and then just once a month, figuring it would be more meaningful to me. However, as I still deal with how much anger and hatred filled me more than 30 years ago, I find myself taking Communion as much as possible and preferring the common cup over the individual cup. Knowing that I was willing to hate someone so much that I was ready and willing to kill them leaves me often feeling that salvation will not be mine. However, thanks to some excellent pastors at my church, I find myself fighting this battle and not leaving the church.
The ability to take Communion each week — knowing that it is Jesus’ body and blood, given for me to forgive me — helps me hang on to the thought of seeing forgiveness. I am sorry, but I have to disagree with the opinion that we should go back to the old ways.
If it weren’t for Communion and knowing that this is God’s way of reminding me He has forgiven me, I probably would have lost hope and would have left the church.
I find that taking Communion as often as possible is just as meaningful as it was the previous time, even if that was just last week or even last night!
George E. Basden
St. Louis, Mo.
“Letters” may be sent via e-mail to REPORTER@lcms.org or by mail to REPORTER Letters, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295. Please include your name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
Posted Nov. 30, 2004