My Sunday morning Bible class at Immanuel began last Sunday. I decided to do a comprehensive look at the doctrine and practice of the Lord’s Supper. In my introduction last Sunday I started off by pointing out some differences between Communion practices at the time of the Reformation and following, and the 20th/21st century. For one thing, Communion was offered every Lord’s Day and on festivals. I pointed out that the only reason for not celebrating Communion was if there were no communicants.
I also noted out children as young as age 7 were admitted to the Lord’s Supper, whereas now we wait (typically) until they are 14. At the time of the Reformation, so I said, the Church knew of only one vessel for distributing the Blood of Christ: the Chalice. Individual cups don’t come in until about 1890 in Maine. I pointed these out just to show people how drastically different our practice is now compared with what it was in Luther’s day. And then we discussed the “why”. What happened between the 16th century and the 20th century? Pietism, Rationalism, war, mixing of Reformed and Lutheran theology have all played their part in the deterioration of Eucharistic theology and practice in the LC-MS.
It seemed to perk the interests of those in attendance, both young and old. Ultimately the goals of this study are twofold: (1) Deepen the understanding and appreciation of the Lord’s Supper among my church members, so that (2) We may begin to see the weaknesses in our own communion practice and strive to get our practice to match our doctrine. I hope it will be a fruitful study for all. We’ll be looking at the key Biblical texts, the early Church Fathers, the Confessions, Luther, other Lutherans like Chemnitz, Gerhard, etc. And then we will tackle issues such as closed communion v. open communion; individual cups; communion frequency; age of admittance, etc. In some way these practices are driven/shaped by our doctrine. I am looking forward to this Sunday already!