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Archive for the ‘Communion’ Category

I’m sure some would say this is cool, that Christ would think it’s so wonderful that all of his creation participates in communion.  But this is nothing more than a slap in the face.  Click the link for the full article.  http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/838717–can-a-dog-receive-communion

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Now that we are through Holy Week, let’s reflect on a few practices that have arisen in recent years and examine to what extent they truly do serve the best interest of the Gospel. One of these is Christians having a Passover Seder.  I would say that while perhaps some kind of demonstration with explanation of a Passover Seder is an interesting teaching tool, I think that a congregation that institutes a regular practice of having a Passover Seder during Holy Week is making a mistake. We have no indication from the New Testament that after Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, the Church continued to observe the Passover. The whole point of the “new” testament is precisely that, in Christ, everything the Passover pointed toward, has been fulfilled. Rev. Dr. Daniel Gard raises a number of very valid objections that I think are well worth our time and attention. Let me know what you think of this practice, in light of Dr. Gard’s concerns.

“Is it appropriate for a Lutheran congregation to celebrate a Passover Seder?  This is not an unimportant question since the practice has become rather widespread in our Synod.  In fact, it has even been promoted (complete with Eucharist!) by the Synod’s Board for Evangelism (A Passover Haggadah for Christians , ed. Bruce J. Lieske, no date).  But can it be historically or theologically sustained?

“The historical question is rather complex, as the history of liturgical forms generally are.  To begin with,  we have no manuscript of a Seder Haggadah  which is early than the tenth century A.D. (Siddur Rav Saadya Gaon ).  Nearly a millennium exists between the time of Jesus and the earliest extant text.   Passover Haggadoth  have never been standardized but have always been shaped and reshaped by circumstances and time.  The ritual has been extraordinarily versatile since the tenth century A.D. and in all likelihood was just as versatile in the preceding centuries.  The claim that any ritual now in existence is identical with that used by Jesus is both anachronistic and historically suspect.

“The theological questions are equally complex.  Even if it were proven (which it has not been) that a specific extant Haggadah  is identical with that used by Jesus,  these problems remain.  The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus with the words “the blood of the new  covenant.”  He commanded that we “do this in remembrance of Me.”  But, to do what?  Celebrate a Seder?  Or celebrate His Sacrament?  The two are simply not the same.  On the night in which He was betrayed,  the Blessed Savior gave His disciples something new.  All that came before converged and found fulfillment in Him.  All that has happened since that night has grown from that same point of convergence and fulfillment.  The Galatian Christians failed to understand the radical nature of the new order found in Christ;  as a result, St. Paul found it necessary to correct their Judaizing error.

“It makes no more sense for Christians to gather around a Passover Seder than it does to gather around another sacrificial lamb.  The very Lamb of God has been slain, once and for all.  We would not and could not offer another sacrifice.  The final Sacrifice was offered on Calvary.  We now celebrate only that Lamb’s own feast as instituted and commanded by Him.  It is the Passover of Jesus, and only the Passover of Jesus, which the Church legitimately celebrates.
One final question might be asked.  Why, given the historical and theological questions,  do some parishes regularly or even occasionally sponsor a Seder?  Two responses have sometimes been given.  First, to teach Christians about the context of the Last Supper.  But given the historical uncertainties of the Haggadah , what anachronisms are being taught as historic facts?  Simply teaching our people a biblical and Lutheran Sacramentology and Christology is difficult enough;  why confuse the issue?

“A second rationale is to reach out and build bridges to the Jewish community.  But is a “Christian” Seder not as offensive to Jewish people as a “Jewish” Eucharist would be to Christians?  Communication with any group of people is rarely enhanced by misappropriating their beloved traditions.  Those Lutherans who use a Seder do so with commendable intentions.  But the inherent problems of the practice result in more harm than good.”

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Worshipers or Customers?

I found this article today. What do you think?

As I’ve spent the past few years “pastorally tangling” with the issue of closed communion in the Lutheran parish, there’s one question I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around until recently, “Why are some people under the impression that when they visit a church to which they have no affiliation whatsoever, that congregation is compelled to admit them to the Sacrament?”

I think the answer to that question is the old business axiom: “The customer is always right.”

When you walk into a clothing store…a grocery store…a car dealership…a realty office…you–the customer–are the center of the universe. You are the focus of the clerk. Your needs are most important. Your desires are their desires. Our 21st century American culture is as focused as any on this premise. You–the customer–are what’s important.

Rather than flatly reject that sort of model within the Church, Christianity has instead done the unthinkable. It has embraced it. When Joe Christian walks into a church on Sunday morning as a visitor, he brings with him his 21st century consumer mentality. “I’m the center of attention. It’s their job to make me feel welcome. They need to make me feel important.” The idea that the congregation would conduct a sacred act and make him feel as though he’s not welcome to be a part of it–that’s tantamount to having a sale and allowing everyone in the store but him to take part in it.

So pastors, when someone enters your church and is outraged over the mean ole’ preacher on his high horse keeping someone from the Table, you can once again thank the business model of ministry that is constantly being touted…even at the top levels of our own church body.

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Ever wondered about the use of the common cup in the history of the church?  Is the use of the common cup something new?  I found this at another of my favorite blog sites.  Enjoy!

  • 1st Century, Jesus Christ, uses the common cup to institute His supper.
  • 2nd Century-the church spreads across the Mediterranean, the first generation of pastors, all trained by the apostles, use the common cup.
  • 3rd Century, the Great Persecutions of the church.  Hidden in the catacombs, in the tombs of the dead, all Christians use the common cup in worship.
  • 4th Century, the Christian church becomes the official faith of the Roman Empire.  In the newly triumphant churches, they use the common cup.
  • 5th Century, the Roman Empire of the West falls to barbaric German tribes (maybe your ancestors).  The Christian missionaries to those tribes use the common cup.
  • 6th Century, The Dark Ages, not much is known of this time period, due to the fall of civilization. What we do know, is that in all the churches, they use the common cup.
  • 7th Century, the new religion of Islam conquers the Christian lands of the Middle East.  In those now captive churches, they still use the common cup.
  • 8th Century, Christian troops in what is now France stop the Islamic invasion at a place called Tours.  They use the common cup in their victory mass.
  • 9th Century, the kingdoms that will become France and Germany form.  In all Christian lands, they use the common cup in communion.
  • 10th Century-Great monasteries are founded, that later will grow into Medieval cities.  The savage Viking begins to be Christianized by monks and priests.  In those monastic houses in the wilderness, the common cup is used.
  • 11th Century, the western catholic and eastern orthodox churches split.  But in both the east and the west, the Christians use the common cup.
  • 12th Century, the great crusades are underway, to reconquer the Middle East and Spain from Islam.  The crusaders use the common cup, even as they search for the Holy Grail, the cup of Christ.
  • 13th Century, the Black Death stalks across Europe, killing up to 40% of the population.  In those places where Christians survive, the common cup is used.
  • 14th Century, the Hundred Years War between England and France is underway.  But in the camps of both armies, they still use the common cup.
  • 15th Century, The Eastern Roman Empire, centered in Constantinople, falls to invading Islamic armies.  In the last church service before the city falls, all Christians, west and east, join together to use the common cup for communion, (oh, and a place called America is discovered).
  • 16th Century, Martin Luther reforms the churches of Northern Germany and in Scandinavia.  In all churches, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Reformed and Orthodox, one issue that they agree on, is to use the common cup.
  • 17th Century, The 30 Years War roars across Europe, while puritan Pilgrims settle in new American lands.  All the churches still use the common cup.
  • 18th Century, 13 of the 15 British colonies declare independence.  The first Lutheran synod in North America is founded.  All the churches use the common cup.
  • 19th Century, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is founded.  All Missouri Synod churches use the common cup.
  • 20th Century, Because of World War I and II, the Missouri Synod switches languages, from German to English.  In most churches up to the 1970s and ’80s, the common cup is used.  But because so many have become afraid of germs, the individual cup is introduced.
  • 21st Century, You now have a choice to make.  Like most of the Christians of previous centuries, you can use the common cup, or you can choose to use this innovation.  It is still the Blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins, no matter what vessel is used.  But the common cup does symbolize our unity, both with other Christians today, as well as those in the past, in the One Christ.  Now you can make an informed decision. 
    God bless you now and always in Christ, Amen.
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    South Carolina Priests Support Local Pastor over Misreported Communion Ban

    Charleston, Nov 17, 2008 (CNA).- Fr. Jay Scott Newman, a South Carolina priest whose parish bulletin letter gained national attention due to an inaccurate Associated Press headline “S.C. Priest: No communion for Obama supporters,” is receiving support from priests in his diocese. The show of priestly support comes after Fr. Newman was criticized by the diocesan administrator for pulling the Church’s teaching into the “partisan political arena.”

    In the weekly parish bulletin, Fr. Newman emphasized the need for people to examine their consciences before receiving Communion and noted that self-described Catholics had played a role in electing Barack Obama as president.

    (more…)

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