Someone asked how I would word a statement dealing with the reverent handling of the body and blood of Christ. Here is something I might say:
13. Remaining communion elements are handled reverently.
Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Jesus are sacramentally present in the bread and wine after the pastor speaks the Words of Institution. As such, it behooves all who handle the consecrated bread and wine before, during, and after the distribution to do so with reverence and godly fear. The Apostle Paul criticizes the Christians in Corinth for treating the Lord’s Supper as a common meal and exhorts those who partake to distinguish between sacramental and common bread (1 Corinthians 11). Paul’s teaching reflects the divine mandates to the Levitical priests to distinguish between the holy and the unholy, between the clean and the unclean. Just as there were severe consequences for those priests who failed to do so, so also are there serious consequences for “unworthy” recipients of the Bread and the Cup (i.e. those who fail to discern the body of Christ).
Practices that are inconsistent with this doctrine of Christ’s presence in the bread and wine of Holy Communion include mixing consecrated bread and wine with unconsecrated; pouring the left over blood of Christ into a toilet or a common drain; throwing plastic individual cups into the trash can without having first rinsed them out in a separate basin. Defenders of such practices argue that the intended use of the consecrated bread and wine is over, and therefore it can be treated as common bread and wine again. However, this argument is not based on Scripture or historic Church practice. The Scriptures do not specify when the sacramental presence in the bread and the wine ceases. Once common bread and wine have come into contact with God’s holiness, they cease to be common. This is not superstition, but rather it is born from a conscientious desire to put our doctrine into practice, or, to put it another way, to bring our practice into conformance with what we believe.
The best way to avoid this predicament is simply for the pastor and assistants to consume all of the remaining sacramental elements. Where this is not possible, it should be reverently stored in a fit receptacle until the next Communion or used for the communion of shut-ins. While this is a serious issue, it should be remembered that there are many faithful pastors who are otherwise orthodox in doctrine and practice, but perhaps were not properly trained in the reverent handling of the remaining Communion elements. Hasty judgment should be avoided.