Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not getting much out of church?

When someone says he's not getting much out of church, the problem could be with the church. The problem is with the church if the church is not doing what Christ gave his churches to do, namely, to preach the pure gospel and to administer the sacraments in accordance with his institution.

By "gospel" I mean the whole counsel of God that invariably centers in the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ Jesus. It's the message that directs hearers to Jesus, not primarily as friend or guidance counselor – and certainly not as buddy!, but to Jesus as the Savior of sinners.

If a church is not preaching the pure gospel and administering the sacraments faithfully "in church" (that is, during the public worship service), if Christ can barely be seen behind the personality of the preacher, if the church is serving a heaping helping of chaff and only the tiniest bit of wheat, then a person who goes to that church may well conclude that he's not getting much out of it. There isn't much of value to be gotten.

But what if the church is preaching the pure gospel and administering the sacraments according to Christ's institution? What if Law and Gospel, rightly divided, fill the service from start to finish and the life of Jesus is being handed out abundantly in the means of grace – and the churchgoer still feels like he's not getting much out of church?

If that is the case, then there's a good answer posted on the WELS Q&A, and we heartily recommend this article to our readers: Feeling Close to God.

Here's a snippet from the end of the article:
    "…the way to enliven worship isn't to repackage it as a pep rally or rock concert. The way to enliven worship is through a lively sense on everybody's part that God is here in the means of grace, offering himself and his pardon to guilty sinners—and we know it, not because we can feel it, but because he promised it."

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree. I think that it's a lack of belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Sacrament. If we genuinely believe that our Lord and Savior is present among us in, with, and under his Body and Blood during Holy Communion, I think a lot more people would be genuflecting, kissing the altar, following the Holy Mass, etc. I'm not saying this is a MUST and I'm not trying to be legalistic. What I am inferring is that if we really believe in the Real Presence then I think we'd be acting a tad bit more reverently. As I've heard stated before: did Moses not take off his shoes in front of the fiery bush because "he'd rather be more comfortable and treat his almighty God as a friend?" No, he took them off because the Bible teaches that those who are in the presence of the Lord tremble, are blinded, fall to their knees, and are converted like Paul because they are in the presence of our Lord and Savior. So I propose we start communicating with our body (body language) that Christ is present among us during corporate worship and that he IS the Almighty God -- our pure and Holy Savior -- who offers us real time, on the spot, forgiveness.

Christian Schulz

Anonymous said...

I'd love to put this answer into a little pamphlet - I'll try and get permission to do so.
I've always thought, and often said, that if people are 'bored' with the Divine Service, then if all things are as they should be in the church, the problem really lies within them and not with the service.

Thank you!

Pr Mark Henderson
(Wont let me sign in under Google)

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Well said, Pr. Henderson.

I've been having problems with Google for months. The only way I can sign in to comment is by unchecking the "stay signed in" box when signing in to Google. Must be an Internet Explorer/Google thing, at least on my end.

Anonymous said...

Me too. Thanks for the tip, Pr Rydecki. I'll see if it works at my end.

Pr MH

Daniel Baker said...

Christian,

Well said. You succinctly encapsulate why my conscience is often times burdened by the Communion practices in our midst. Being forced to take the Body of Christ into my hand, or drink His precious blood in a shot glass - let alone while *standing* before His very Real Presence - totally takes the emphasis (for me) off of what Christ has done and places it onto my unworthiness. Then, the Sacrament becomes Law and about what I am/not doing, even though I know better!

One thing I often ask people is simply this: If Christ appeared before you now, what would you do? The answer is almost always the same; bow down, fall prostrate, kiss his feet, etc. So why do we neglect this praxis on Sunday morning? The only answer, it seems to me, is that we do not believe Christ is actually present - at least not the same way as if He were "actually" before us.

As for the original thrust of this post, I agree wholeheartedly (and was pleasantly surprised by the Q&A Article). The Sacred Liturgy "sums up the the hope we have in Him," as one of our hymns is wont to say. People often say the repetition is what bores them, but when we still had our "contemporary" services at my home parish, they were often times much more "repetitious" than the regular Divine Service! Not to mention the fact that there was often no reading of Sacred Scripture (and it goes without saying that the Blessed Sacrament was absent as well). Thanks, but encompassing a 45 minute talking session with 5 "praise songs" and a prayer is much more "boring" than the Divine Liturgy will ever be.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Daniel,

Thanks for your comment. I generally agree with your sentiment, but I hope you won't mind if I caution you a little bit about going overboard in a couple of places.

I think we would do very well to return entirely to the historic practice of using the Chalice rather than the Individual Cups that were introduced by the Reformed who deny the Real Presence. I'm all for teaching the better confession of the Chalice and being honest about the origins of the IC's.

But I would suggest we stop using derogatory terms like "shot glasses" for the IC's. I see this all the time, and it saddens me a bit, because I would guess that the vast majority of the laity who use the IC's have never thought "shot glass" when they approach the Communion rail. Putting this idea in people's heads that, "You're drinking the Lord's blood out of a shot glass, you know" suggests to people a level of profanity that they themselves have never entertained, people who have been reverently receiving the blood of the Lord for their comfort.

As for receiving the host in one's hand, again, let's not go overboard. "Take and eat." Receiving the Lord's body on one's tongue is in keeping with the Lord's words. But so is taking it in one's hand. Believe me, your tongue is no more worthy than your hand is to receive the Lord's body. And it would surprise me if your pastor really "forced" you to receive it in your hand. Have you asked him if it would be all right to receive it directly in your mouth?

Finally, kneeling is a very proper posture for receiving Communion, and in some cases, can be a statement of confession against those who deny the Real Presence. But to suggest that standing is necessarily less reverent is saying a little too much. The multitudes in heaven are "standing" in the presence of the Lamb, according to Revelation. Nor are we told that Jesus' disciples always greeted the risen Lord on their knees, though when John was confronted with the Lord in his glory in Revelation, he certainly fell to the ground in fear.

Anyway, my point is simply this. There's lots to mourn in the Church and lots of practices that MUST be changed because they are wrong. The ones you've mentioned, however, are not the things that should burden a Christian or cause him to shake his head in disgust.

Pr. Benjamin Tomczak said...

Daniel ~

It's a bummer if you are forced to receive the sacrament in a certain way (in the hand, rather than the mouth).

Everywhere I've been, from confirmation class on, I have been taught, told, or have taught that one can receive the Body of Christ in their hands or on their tongue.

But maybe it can comfort you some to know that in the early church Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) in his catechetical lectures (N-PNF, Series 2, Volume 7, Lecture 23, para. 21) talked about making a throne with your hands to receive the body of the Lord.

So that, at least, is not an innovation of the real absence crowd. It is a ancient practice with ancient precedent.

On the other hand, we have to be careful not to make new and binding laws about how to receive the Lord's Supper. The only binding "law" Christ gave was, "Do this."

The essence of the meal is the eating and drinking for the forgiveness of sins, not whether I'm reclining with 12 other men at a Passover table, kneeling at a communion rail or standing next to my brothers and sisters in Christ, drinking from one common cup or my own individual cup.

Is it possible for the things that burden your conscience -- individual cups, standing to receive the Sacrament, receiving the Body of Christ in your hand -- to take the emphasis away from Christ and put it on you? Sure. Is it always the case? I hope you would agree with me and say, "No." For you it does. For me (who receives the Body of Christ in his hand and because of congregational history and practice drinks from an individual cup) it doesn't.

After all, Jesus says, "Take and eat." Isn't the most natural understanding in our eating context of that phrase to see the host and take one from the paten? Which, I'm guessing, most pastors would discourage.

I hope you aren't accusing me of not believing that Christ is present because I don't receive the Body and Blood of Christ in exactly the same way that you do.

If you've gotten this far, I beg you at the same time, to not hear me say, "Stand, don't kneel!" Or, "Hands, not tongues!" or "Throw away the common cup!" I appreciate the ritual symbolism and Biblical imagery of all those things -- kneeling in humility before my King, drinking of one cup, for we are bound by faith into one loaf.

Back to the sermon writing!
Ben

AP said...

I understand what Daniel is saying. I personally prefer the individual cups, and most certainly do not see them as shot glasses. These little cups of the Lord's blood are treated very reverently by my pastors, ushers, and fellow congregation members. I think that there can be some dangers to using them. They invite carelessness to come extent. For example, what do you do with the little cup? We have a built-in place for them in the communion rail, but I have seen some places where they simply get tossed into baskets, and I'm not sure that sends the right message. As for the placing of the wafer in the hand, I have never seen it as a problem.

The problem is a general ignorance of proper doctrine and worship practices (i.e. why we do things the way we do things).

We have bigger problems in the church right now than the individual / common cup debate. For example, is it "meet, right, and salutary" for people to be munching on popcorn in church before they receive the body and blood of our Lord? Just a thought.

Dr. Aaron Palmer

PCXIAN said...

When someone says he's not getting much out of church, maybe it’s because the church is not teaching Christian application. The Law convicts us and the Gospel saves us but hearing a generic sermon about the Law and then that Jesus saves us and we will see you next week and you’re out the door just doesn’t cut it…and least not for this sinner.

Jesus taught application like no one other. Paul taught application. Peter taught application. No, not in a generic sense like so many pastors preach, but it a very practical, day to day, exact behavioral sense.

When was the last time your pastor was honest with you? I mean really honest with you explaining his weaknesses, failings, and sins. I dare say seldom, if ever.

I can better relate to a pastor who confesses that he is just like me, a sinner. When he talks about his weaknesses and failings, guess what, I see myself. When he talks about his sins, guess what, I really, really see myself. When the pastor speaks generically about sin, sadly I and I’m sure there are many others, don’t see ourselves as we should.

So pastors, if you want someone like me to get more out of church preach sermons that touch my heart, show me my sins directly, point me to Him who saves me, and, hopefully, because of Him change my behavior through daily application of His Word.

P. C. Christian

PCXIAN said...

Here's another consideration. Perhaps when someone says he's not getting much out of church, maybe it’s because the church isn’t a “Bible” church, so to speak. What I mean is not that the obligatory three “readings of the day” aren’t read each Sunday but that the church doesn’t actively point out to the people where in their own personal Bibles these holy words are located so that they can refer to them frequently.

The Bible should used as a daily textbook not something that conveniently sits on a bookshelf since Confirmation Day. I dare say, too many Lutherans seldom open their Bibles, much less underline, highlight, or circle words and phrases. Why should they? The Sunday service bulletin has the readings posted and so does Meditations. There isn’t any incentive or need to use ones personal Bible as it was meant to be, a daily primer.

So I recommend that congregations do not have the readings posted in their bulletins. Rather encourage their members to bring their Bibles to church with a pen or pencil in hand and start taking notes during the sermon and become intimately familiar with what God says. Then we will get the true benefit of the “Living Word” and subsequently, “get more out of church.”

P. C. Christian

Pastor Spencer said...

Thank you all for your comments. Your reverent attitude shows through in your concerns and observations.

I almost hate to bring this up - note I said almost - but AP touches on an issue that has bothered me for years, i.e. "disposing" of the little plastic cups after partaking of communion.

What message are sending when these cups and remnants of wine still left in them are tossed in wastebaskets, which, let's be honest, are only polite names for small garbage cans?! This practice seems most prevalent at Pastors conferences and conventions, where there are large numbers of communicants. But is that any reason to treat this element in such a manner that at the very least certainly gives the appearance of disrespect?

More convoluted than that - I have seen baptismal fonts employed to receive these used cups. That may seem to give a bit higher honor to the wine, but what does it say about the Sacrament of Holy Baptism!?

Switching to glass cups may avoid the "throw-away" aspect, but here again the manner of collection and washing is often quite cavalier.

In my humble opinion, the entire matter of the "relinqua" - in the case of both bread and wine - needs more than cursory attention. It was glossed over during my PT (Pastoral Theology) classes at seminary, and is usually ignored by agenda committees of most Pastoral conferences.

I wonder - what are we afraid of - that people will think that we really believe in the Real Presence? More likely, we're afraid, once again - and really it is so very tiring! - of being labeled "Roman" (as in Catholic, capital 'C').

Of course, I'm not advocating for a Lutheran version of "Corpus Christie" or anything like that. But it is, I believe, a fact of history that Luther himself bemoaned combining bread and wine which had been consecrated in a previous Mass together with elements than had not yet been. I wonder what his reaction would be to wastebaskets soaked with recently consecrated wine being hauled off to the trash can in the alley behind church after a district convention opening service.

Can we be surprised then when people come forward for the Lord's Supper still chewing gum - I've actually seen folks blowing bubbles while standing in line! - or picking popcorn or candy out of their teeth while kneeling?!?

All these things are connected. They all speak of attitude. Actions, after all, often do speak louder than words. And our actions in regard to the Sacraments, and in particular the Lord's Supper, are quite able to overcome our best sermons on the subject.

Just sayin'!

Pastor Spencer

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the last of several questions with their answers included in a 1551 edition of Luther's Small Catechism. Attributed to Luther, these "Christian Questions with Their Answers" were written for those who intend to go to the Sacrament, but the last question with its answer is apropos to the subject of this post.

Q: But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?

A: To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15-16 and in 1 John 2 and 5. Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.

"Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” - Luke 7:47

Rev. James Schulz

Daniel Baker said...

Prs. Rydecki, Tomczak, et al.,

Firstly, I did not mean to give the impression that I am forced to live with these practices at my home parish - far from it. The practice I was taught in confirmation class was to kneel at the Altar and receive the Body on the tongue and the Blood in the Chalice. This was not even an option at my first Communion. As such, my commentary was directed toward parishes that are not my own (namely, ones at which I play organ).

Secondly, I fully recognize that this is subjective, and I did not mean to imply that my level of reverence must (or even should) be met by all others. But I frequently hear tell of the *necessity* to offer "individual cups" lest we offend the weaker brother, but there is never any consideration for *this* weaker brother whose conscience is grieved when he considers what happens to this "IC" after it is disposed of (as Pr. Spencer touched on).

In any case, I did not mean to imply that the practices I prefer must be followed or even should be pressed. But I think it is important to keep in mind the precedent of the Church and the message that our practice sends when we do it. Lex orandi, lex credendi and all that. (And as for kneeling, the saints and angels "fell down" a number of times before the Lamb - and Scripture even tells us that the Cherubim have extra wings to cover themselves before God's presence. Again, obviously there was standing too, so I'm not trying to force anything on anyone. But we should keep in mind Whose Presence we are in. I find it hard to believe that anyone would cite Revelation 7:9 if Christ appeared before them in all His glory; do we not consider the Blessed Sacrament all His glory? These are things worth considering).

Anonymous said...

Like others have suggested: spoken language and body language are two of the same (although I'd suggest that body language says a lot -- more than someone dosing off or picking the popcorn out of their popcorn bags meanwhile missing the words of confession and absolution and the Law and Gospel in the sermon). In my limited years of education I think that though the Words are great and significant I also would argue that how we act (our body language) is a very powerful form of confession (especially to the visitor). So some may say that God is present during the Sacrament or that we are miserably sinners who without our Mediator, through faith, would be damned to hell. But the fact of the matter is that if you don't show with your body language that these are facts and that you truly believe this I don't think the people will believe it also. They'll just say, "Oh, yeah, I guess the Bible says that" but if we do then we would act like it. I think the historic liturgy does that very well, rubrics and all.

I understand that Satan is active and will distract us from paying attention during a "liturgical" service just as he will distract anyone from paying attention to the Gospel in a "contemporary" service. My point is that the historic liturgy is pronouncing the Gospel no matter what (whether or not the pastor is having a bad day) and is the best form to point people to Christ. The "contemporary" service limits those possibilities even more. We start out with our sinful human nature plus the satan tempting us and we add in things that (in my opinion) distract us (and the unchurched) from the Gospel. So I propose that we cut down on the risks [of contemporary worship] and use the benefits we already have with the historic liturgy.

I understand that a lot of what I said could technically be taken the wrong way but I hope that those reading it will understand it and if there is any clarification of my opinion necessary I'll be glad to answer it.

Christian Schulz

Anonymous said...

Steve and AP,

I find it rather odd that you both are somewhat consumed with what to do with the used plastic/glass communion cups. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul never mention whether or not all the bread was consumed and all the wine drunk at the First Communion or at any other partaking of the Lord’s Supper thereafter. It was just divided among them. Even if it was all consumed, weren’t there small crumbs, drops, and even molecules left on the plate and in the chalice?

Let’s get a little biological. After we swallow the bread/Christ’s body and the wine/Christ’s blood don’t these particles enter our stomach, our intestines, our blood stream and then are exhaled through our breath and discharged through our urine and feces? Should we attempt to collect this matter. Certainly, we agree that we should not.

As Ben Tomczak says above, “The essence of the meal is the eating and drinking for the forgiveness of sins, not whether I'm reclining with 12 other men at a Passover table, kneeling at a communion rail or standing next to my brothers and sisters in Christ, drinking from one common cup or my own individual cup.”

Martin Luther’s writes in his Small Catechism (NWPH, 1956, page 224), “How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words here written, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Which words, beside the bodily eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament. And he who believes these words, has what they say and declare, namely, forgiveness of sins.”

So don’t worry about the crumbs, drops, and molecules on the plate and in the used cups. Rather be refreshed and confident that your sins have been forgiven through this Sacrament.

P. C. Christian

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

P.C. (Peter?),

You make some good points in your response to Rev. Spencer and Dr. Palmer, and center your remarks where our thoughts ought to be as we receive the Blessed Sacrament. But their points deserve further consideration. I'm not being critical of your response, as I have been thinking of adding to Rev. Spencer's comments in this vein, anyway, but given your comments think it is especially important to consider their points more deeply.

On the night in which He was betrayed, as Christ, holding the bread in His hand, consecrated it, saying, "This is my Body," was it, or wasn't it, His Body, in, with and under the bread? When he held the cup in His hand, and consecrated it, saying, "This is my Blood," was it, or wasn't it His Blood, in, with and under the wine? When we do likewise according to the command of Christ, identifying the Bread and Wine in the Consecration as the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, is it, or isn't it the very Body and Blood of Christ, in, with, and under the bread and wine? It is important to note that when the communicant receives the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in, with and under the Bread and Wine, he is not devouring it as he is the bread and wine, but is receiving what was given and shed for him and for all sinners, and is joined with Him -- physically and spiritually -- in a most intimate way. So, as you state, the bread and wine is digested, and the waste excreted from our bodies, but not so with the Body and Blood of Christ, which remains joined with us. But what about the Body and Blood that is in, with and under the bread and wine, which is still on the Table? It has been consecrated. Is it not still the Body and Blood of Christ? When does it become "unconsecrated?" This is a serious question since the Bible would indicate that there is no point in time at which unconsumed consecrated Bread and Wine can become "unconsecrated" -- the Supper was instituted and the intention was that the bread and wine be fully consumed and thereby the communicant joined with Christ. There is no mention of "unconsecrating" the elements. Nevertheless, as a practical matter, following the Lord's Supper, congregations have unconsumed consecrated bread and wine, questions regarding which have led to a great number of varying practices attempting to properly and reverently deal with them, since those consecrated elements continue to be identified as the Body and Blood of Christ. The most common way to deal with this question is in the preparation -- to try to prepare only enough bread and wine that will be required, perhaps even just a little less, so that all consecrated elements will be consumed. If there isn't enough, a little more can be brought to the table and be consecrated before being distributed (use of common cup, makes this much easier). Other practices, and in some cases abuses, which descend from recognizing the Body and Blood of our Lord, in, with and under the consecrated bread and wine, include elevation of the host or even adoration of the host. The Romans put unconsumed consecrated host in a little house on the altar.

The view I have just described (and some practices that may have become associated with it) is called Consecrationism -- the teaching that the point in time in which the bread and wine becomes also Body and Blood, is fixed at the moment of consecration, or the rite of identifying the bread and wine as Christ's Body and Blood for the purpose of Communion. As you can see, it would call for thoughful and reverent handling of left-over consecrated elements. WELS does not teach Consecrationism.

Continued in next comment...

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

...Continued from previous comment

An opposing view is that of Receptionism, or the teaching that bread and wine become also Body and Blood only as the communicant receives them. This view entirely avoids the question of left over consecrated elements -- they are merely bread and wine, nothing more, and can be disposed of in any way fitting that of garbage. Disposable also is reverent regard for the elements and reverent practice associated with their distribution. It's not actually Body and Blood, after all, until the communicant actually receives them. Therefore practices which would recognize the actual Body and Blood of Christ, in, with and under the bread and wine, prior to reception, while perhaps symbolically meaningful (like kneeling at the communion rail), are nevertheless superfluous and unnecessary, and can be freely disposed of and replaced with any practice fitting the immediate needs of the congregation. WELS does not teach Receptionism, either.

There was a recent controversy in the ELS concerning these matters, which favored a Consecrationist position, but others are far more qualified to discuss the merits of that issue than I am. The point is, WELS "settled" the matter by taking a middle position, viz.: "While we know that what we receive in the consecrated elements is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, in, with and under the bread and wine, we cannot fix a specific point in time in which the bread and wine become also Body and Blood." So now, in our discussion of Communion practice, we are faced with the question, "What if the left-over consecrated elements actually are the Body and Blood of Christ?" If the possibility exists, which WELS must fully admit, how do we comport ourselves in their presence, in the presence of what may actually be the true Body and Blood of our Prophet, Priest and King, living God and the ruler of the Universe? How do we handle and dispose of left-over elements that might actually be the true Body and Blood of our Saviour? Do we cast the issue to the wind, do we say, "Well, it might not be, so who cares?" Or do we maintain a reverent and thoughtful attitude and practice, which regards the unconsumed consecrated elements as the true Body and Blood of Christ? Rev. Spencer and Dr. Palmer would probably choose the latter. I know that I do.

Mr. Douglas Lindee

vdma said...

Lutherans do not teach a moment (whether a syllable or even a specific word) when the bread and wine are His body and blood. But in the upper room, when Jesus said, "This is my body," at that breath of speaking, true disciples are in no position to doubt whether it is.

God's blessings.
Rick Techlin

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Since it's Thanksgiving Day, I don't have much time to comment, but I'll issue another caution here.

The Solid Declaration says this, and it certainly applies to the discussion of the leftover elements that have been blessed.

85] [Let us now come also to the second point, of which mention was made a little before.] To preserve this true Christian doctrine concerning the Holy Supper, and to avoid and abolish manifold idolatrous abuses and perversions of this testament, the following useful rule and standard has been derived from the words of institution: Nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum a Christo institutum ("Nothing has the nature of a sacrament apart from the use instituted by Christ") or extra actionem divinitus institutam ("apart from the action divinely instituted"). That is: If the institution of Christ be not observed as He appointed it, there is no sacrament. This is by no means to be rejected, but can and should be urged and maintained with profit in the Church of God. 86] And the use or action here does not mean chiefly faith, neither the oral participation only, but the entire external, visible action of the Lord's Supper instituted by Christ, [to this indeed is required] the consecration, or words of institution, the distribution and reception, or oral partaking [manducation] of the consecrated bread and wine, [likewise the partaking] of the body and blood of Christ. 87] And apart from this use, when in the papistic mass the bread is not distributed, but offered up or enclosed, borne about, and exhibited for adoration, it is to be regarded as no sacrament; just as the water of baptism, when used to consecrate bells or to cure leprosy, or otherwise exhibited for worship, is no sacrament or baptism. (Formula, S.D. VII, 85-87)

There is a Lutheran middle road here that we must recognize. We should recognize the Real Presence of the Lord throughout the "use" of the Sacrament, which includes the consecration, the giving, taking and eating. And while we should recognize with thanksgiving the fact that the leftover elements were, during the use of the Sacrament, the vehicles for the Lord to give us his body and blood, once they are "leftover," they are no longer part of the use, and therefore, there is no question about the Lord's body or blood being thrown away in the trash. It is not.

There's lots more to talk about, but no time for me today!

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Well, that settles that question. Thanks, Rev. Rydecki! Of course, the question of "Sacramental use" is interesting, too. Some (probably most) say that "Sacramental use" is designated only within the context of the rite. Other Lutheran pastors (specifically, two other WELS pastors I have spoken with on this topic over the past ten years or so) have said to me that "Sacramental use" is designated beginning when the elements enter the church building ("What do you think we're going to do with it? Have a party?"). This is more the product of musing on my part, however, nothing we really need to dive too deeply into...

PCXIAN said...

Douglas,

Thanks for your expanded comments on this subject. The below quote is from the WELS Statement of Faith, Questions and Answers, concerning the Lord's Supper.

“The real presence of Christ's body and blood is a special, sacramental presence that is beyond our full understanding. We say this to avoid crass, cannibalistic ideas that have no place here. This eating is real, but it is supernatural (spiritual, my addition). We do not see or taste the body and blood. It cannot be detected by our senses. We do not digest it like ordinary food.”

Gotta go. The Packers are beating the Lions and I have to check on the turkey which is on the grill. A blessed Thanksgiving to all.

Paul C. Christian

Pastor Spencer said...

Thanks for the discussion, Mr. Christian.

I think you are making an inaccurate, or at the very least, an imprecise comparison. Comparing biological actions, in this case, the automatic, involuntary functions of the human body, created by almighty God to work as they do, to the discretionary and voluntary acts of people who could choose to do otherwise, and give impressions and send messages through their actions, is to compare two very unlike things. How we treat the relinqua is a choice by which we can demonstrate our doctrine. That's all I'm saying in this particular point, no more, no less. I'm not attempting to prescribe what precise actions must be taken.

As Pastor Rydecki correctly said, ". . . we should recognize with thanksgiving the fact that the leftover elements were, during the use of the Sacrament, the vehicles for the Lord to give us his body and blood, . . ." However one wants to show such recognition with thanksgiving and respect is, of course, a matter of Christian liberty. But such recognition should certainly be clearly made.

Again, thanks for your comments. Now, on to other matters!

Pastor Spencer

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