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In Search of the Perfect Communion Card Statement

Spring 2008 Wyoming District Pastoral Conference Trinity Lutheran Church, Rock Springs, Wyoming Rev. Paul J Cain

Im a card-carrying member of the LCMS!

I thought it was an urban legend until I saw one

The Military Version

A Perfect Statement?
Rather than perfect, how about a faithful one Membership cards, LCMS, are shorthand for a full examination before communing.

Some places have forgotten the practice of announcing for Communion:

Unique challenges (e.g. Mormons) based upon a congregations location, history, context Examine the statements of other sister congregations & those outside the LCMS There are benefits to a common statement!

The LCMS CTCR Statement (Obverse)

The LCMS CTCR Statement (Reverse)

Common Wyoming District Additions to The LCMS CTCR Statement

We thank you for respecting our practice. We welcome fellow Christians to sing, pray, and worship with us, but out of true, Biblical, Christian loving concern, we kindly ask that

those who are not members of the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod would not commune without first speaking with the pastor. We

would not want our visitors to violate their own consciences or the public confession of faith that is made through their home Church membership. We would want, in obedience to God (Acts 2:42), that they first examine our teachings to determine if true fellowship exists between us.

An Expressed Concern About

The LCMS CTCR Statement

Some have interpreted the last line to mean, If I just speak with the pastor or an usher I will then be allowed to commune.

Essential Elements
The Words of Christ! The basic teachings of Scripture on the Supper found in the Small Catechism:

This is My BodyThis is My Blood

Be more specific, rather than Real Presence

Faith in these words: Given and shed for your for the forgiveness of sins.

Further Guidance

Holy Communion at this congregation is for

the baptized Lutheran Christian with Repentant Faith who recognizes the Real Presence of Christs Body and Blood who is in altar and pulpit fellowship with this congregation
Church Fellowship is Altar Fellowship

Bible teaching on the Lords Supper Unity in all teaching, not merely the doctrine of the Lords Supper

Helpful Ideas to Include

Thank you for respecting our practice. Speak to pastor:

If you are not a member of the congregation, you are asked to speak with the pastor or an elder or an usher before coming forward for the Sacrament. The LCMS and ELCA (or WELS, ELS, etc.) are not in fellowship with one another.

Before service if LCMS to announce (call ahead) Ask others refrain from communing, speak to pastor after

Pray for unity in Christ under Scripture. We dont want you to sin against your conscience. Be clear. Brevity is best.

In the US, only in fellowship with the AALC (2007)

Other Concerns

Where is this announcement located?

Card? Pew? Bulletinwhere? Tract? Welcome table? With an Elder or Usher

Carefully Prepare

Pastor (be available before service) Elders Ushers Greeters Members (when bringing family/friends) Members (when visiting sister congregations)
A letter from you? Eucharist and Church Fellowship Ask them to call ahead

Why Are Some Statements Insufficient?

When there is no statement at all. Some say: Yall come!

Saying nothing says a lot.
This equals Open Communion

All Lutherans OR All Baptized Christians Four Parts: Sorry for sins, want to do better (amend sinful life), believe in Jesus as Savior, believe in the Real Presence
Not all are in altar and pulpit fellowship

Repentance, Sanctification, and Faith are good, but it ignores agreement in all doctrinal articles

Toward a Common Statement for the Wyoming District?

Reconsider the basics Consider the LCMS CTCR Statement Draft a new complementary statement for use among all our congregations

Present a statement at a future Pastoral Conference Study at the congregation level Revise, present before Convention Is this something we should consider?

How about a new LCMS membership card?

Resources to Consider
Rev. Dr. Ron Garwood on Your Neighbor and Closed Communion LHP Occasional Paper II (2006 TTGNAJ Convocation) Visit Rev. Dr. A. L. Barry, What About Fellowship in

Higher Things implementation of Close Communion Conference Application Form/Service Booklet Lord, May Your Body and Your Blood book of sample Communion Statements by Wieting (selfpublished, current availability unknown)

the Lords Supper?


A Quick Poll

How often does your congregation celebrate Holy Communion?

A Wyoming District Example

SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR In our worship today we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We believe and teach the Real Presence of Christ His body and blood in the Sacrament for our forgiveness and nurture. In the Sacrament we are joined in a very close, personal and intimate way with Christ and with one another as we receive the bread and wine, the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. We believe that when a person partakes of the Sacrament he/she is also confessing his/her unreserved agreement with the doctrine and practice that is proclaimed from the altar and pulpit of which the Sacrament is administered. We therefore ask that all visitors and guests who may wish to receive the Sacrament or discuss Close Communion kindly speak to an Elder or the Pastor at a convenient time during the week.

A Wyoming District Example

About Holy Communion The Sacrament of the Lords Supper is administered here at B in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. It is celebrated in the joyous confidence that we receive, under the bread and wine, Christs true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Besides individually receiving Christs gift of forgiveness in this Sacrament, all those who commune at our altar also make a confession of faith as we believe and teach in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, thereby witnessing to our doctrine al unity in the Christian faith. For this reason, if you are not

a member of a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, we kindly ask you to arrange for a time to speak with Pastor before communing. If you desire to

learn more about these beliefs, or are interested in learning how to become a member of this church, please ask. Thank you for honoring our practice.

A Wyoming District Example

The Lords Supper is joyfully celebrated on the Lords Day and at other times among the Lords people at Q Evangelical Lutheran Church (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod). The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and this congregation firmly believe in the real presence of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus in, with and under the bread and wine, given for the forgiveness of sins. If you belong to a sister congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, please introduce yourself to the pastor before communing or please ask an usher to direct you to the pastor or an elder. If you are not a member of a congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod or one of her sister church bodies scattered throughout the world, we kindly ask you to respect our closed communion policy and refrain from communing. We invite you to hear Gods Word, sing the hymns, and pray for the day when our divisions are healed. It is the mission of this congregation to faithfully baptize and teach until the Lords return. If you desire more information about the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, seek to be baptized or desire to be taught, please direct your inquiries to the pastor. Acts, chapter two, verse forty-two reads: And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. What was true for the earliest Christians is also true for us. On the basis of our common understanding of the Old and New Testaments, that is, the apostles' teaching, we therefore have fellowship with one another, which is begun in baptism and is strengthened by the continual teaching of Gods Word. This fellowship is expressed in the gathering of Gods people in their common understanding and practice of Gods Word. Out of this fellowship flows the highest expression of common agreement, the public confession in the unity of all things at the Lords table, or in the above-words of St. Luke in Acts, the breaking of bread. The Lords Supper is celebrated among us in the context of the historic liturgy, which finds its source and life in Gods Word and has been faithfully handed down to us by previously faithful generations. The earliest Christians summarized this Divine Service or liturgy by devoting themselves to the prayers, first hearing the Word of God and then saying back to Him what He proclaims to us. DISTRIBUTION NOTE When receiving the Lords body, please extend one or both hands when you receive the host. When you receive the Lords blood, please extend a hand to receive an individual cup. If you desire the common cup, please assist the elder by directing the cup to your lips. Visitors, please take note of our communion statement and practice located inside this worship guide.

A Wyoming District Example

Registration for Communion In order that you may worthily partake of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, be mindful of the exhortation of St. Paul: Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of that cup. Please fill out this card and have it reach the church office no later than the day before the celebration of Holy Communion. I (we) desire to receive Communion on (date) A.M./P.M. (Names, Address, Phone follow) (Other side) This card is for members only. Those desiring to commune with us for the first time must register in person with the pastor. This card may be brought to church at a prior service or it may be mailed. There should ordinarily be no registering by telephone or at the time of the service. Appointments may be made by any communicant who desires to speak with the pastor before communing.

A Wyoming District Example

COMMUNION PRACTICE We are delighted to have you with us this Lords Day. If you wish to receive Holy Communion, please know that we desire that for you as well. The Lords Supper is offered to our communicant members. It is also offered to those in good standing of congregations in full altar and pulpit fellowship with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LC-MS).* Because we believe teach and confess that Holy Communion is such a big step, we ask that you visit with the pastor first to tell him the name of your home LCMS congregation. This is born out of our desire to be faithful to the Word of God (I Corinthians 11:27-32) and out of Christian love for you. We ask all in attendance to please honor our practice. If you are not a member of a[n] LC-MS congregation, we ask that you contact the pastor for information regarding our Communion practice and other Lutheran teachings and practices. *Sadly, the ELCA and LCMS

are not in altar and pulpit fellowship.

A Wyoming District Example

FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO COMMUNE Scripture tells us that before we take the Lords Supper we should examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:27-28). Scripture makes clear that we can take Communion to our judgment (1 Cor. 11:29). Scripture also makes clear that in Communion a public testimony is being given that the communicant believes the teachings of the altar he/she communes at are faithful to the Word of God. When we come to the altar at Blank Lutheran Church we are publicly proclaiming that we believe that the teachings of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod are faithful to the Word of God, and that we are one with each other in doctrine and practice (1Cor. 1:10, 10:17 & Romans 16:17). We practice Close Communion wherein we believe that only those who are one with us in doctrine and practice should attend Holy Communion here, because Communion proclaims a unity of faith. This does not imply that those of another Christian denomination are not true believers. It does mean that we at Blank Lutheran take doctrine and practice seriously and that we believe that we should be one before we publicly proclaim that we are one.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Communicant member of the LCMS and of Blank Lutheran Church, please contact the pastor. The Adult Instruction course is entitled, Myth or Faith, A Fresh Look at Christian Christian Doctrine and there are 14 sessions each lasting
approximately 90 minutes.

A Wyoming District Example

In this congregation we practice close communion at Gods Altarwhich means we believe only those persons who are united with us in all the teachings of the Christian faith and doctrine should join us at the altar for the Lords Supper. We thank you for acknowledging this practice and ask visitors to check with the Pastor before joining us in the reception of the Lords Supper.

A Wyoming District Example

Our Communion Practice: Believing that Jesus Christ is Himself truly present in His Body and Blood according to His promise (1 Corinthians 11:23-26); that is to receive Him in faith is the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:26-29); and that anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the Body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (1 Corinthians 11:27-30); our congregation practices close communion. This means that only those of the Lutheran faith and those who are in fellowship with us, the LCMS, and are in agreement with our teachings are welcomed to come to Holy Communion (1 Corinthians 10:15-17). If you are not a member of the congregation, you are asked to speak with the pastor or an elder or an usher before coming forward for the Sacrament. Please receive a communion card from the elder on duty as Christs invitation to eligible communicants to partake of His Body and Blood.

A Wyoming District Example

Today we celebrate the deepest and holiest mystery of the Church as we partake of our Lords Body and Blood in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. St. Ys continues the ancient Church practice of offering the Lords Supper only to Christians who share confessional unity with us in pure doctrine. If you are not a member of St. Ys or have not received communion here before, please speak with Pr. X before the service begins.

An LCMS Example

Our Communion Practice Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church observes the historic church practice of Close Communion. This practice, which the congregations of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod have promised to observe, is prompted by love both for Gods Word and His people. It does not deny that members of other denominations are Christians. Rather, it bows the knee to the Bibles great concern for doctrinal truth (Romans 16:17) and the Bibles teaching that there must be doctrinal unity to receive this sacrament together (1 Corinthians 10:17). Our communicant membership testifies to our commitment that we are one in faith and doctrine. As we receive the Lords Supper together, witness is given that we are united in the faith we profess. We cannot in good conscience commune anyone who has not been thoroughly instructed in the doctrine of Jesus and His Supper lest they receive His Body and Blood as a judgment upon themselves. Gods Word says (1 Corinthians 11:29-30) that anyone who eats and drinks not recognizing the Body and Blood of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment upon himself. God also warns us (1 Corinthians 11:28) to examine ourselves before we participate in the Lords Supper, and to discern that we are not harboring any sins for which we have not repented. The Christian Questions with Their Answers from Luthers Small Catechism (Section 4) are a helpful aid to such examination. For these reasons, we ask that those who are not members to the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod would not commune without first speaking with the pastor, an elder, or an usher. We would not want you to violate your own conscience or the public confession of faith that is
made through your Church membership. We would want, in obedience to God (Acts 2:42) that you first examine our teachings to determine if true fellowship exists between us. May God richly bless you as you hear His Word of grace and render your service of thanksgiving with us today.

Non-LCMS Counter-example

Welcome! We are glad you worshipped with us today. How may we serve you? I am a visitor. I am a new resident. I plan to commune. I would like my name on the church mailing list. I have a special prayer request. I am interested in membership. I would appreciate a visit by the pastor. I am going to the hospital. Please note my change of address. [on back] [Also on back] This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:19-20 Were glad you joined us for worship. Please let us know how we may serve you. Please keep the upper portion of this card as a gift bookmark. Tear off the lower portion and place it in the offering place or turn it in at the church office.

A Non-LCMS Statement with Good Things to Say

Receiving Holy Communion The Z Church understands the reception of Holy Communion to be a sign not only of a persons relationship to the Lord but also to a particular Christian denomination. For us it is a sign of full membership in the Z Church. For this reason, we invite only active Zs to the Communion table. (See bulletin for further information.) Should you wish information on becoming a member of the Z Church, please complete: Name Phone (Give to usher, clergy, or place in basket.) [The accompanying bulletin states the following: ] A Note to Visitors: Welcome to Church Name! The people of the Blank hope that your time in ourChurch may be an opportunity to share our joy and faith in Jesus Christ. We sincerely appreciate all contributions which we will use for the maintenance of the Church and the ministries of the parish. We remind all visitors who are not of the Z faith that, while we welcome you to join in prayer and worship with us, we regret that we cannot extend to you an invitation to the Eucharist (Holy Communion). Sacramental communion is understood by Zs as a sign of unity of faith and membership in the Z Community. Please pray for the unity of all Christians. If you desire to be come a member of the parish or of the Z Church, please complete a registration card, available at the entrances of the Church. Listening devices are available for those who are hearing impaired. Please notify an usher. From which Church Body do you think this came? (Roman Catholic, St. Louis, MO)

Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops

For our fellow Christians We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will less and finally disappear, in keeping with Christs prayer for us that they may all be one (John 17:21). Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion For those not receiving Holy Communion All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another. For non-Christians We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.

Thanks for Listening!