Saturday, April 16, 2016

Catching Up and A Thought About Communion Practice

Been a bit since I posted. Still basking in the glow of Villanova's victory! :-) Got my National Championship hat in the mail yesterday. Way overpriced, but I wanted to have one.

In other news . . .

+ The Walk-Run-Ride for Life was today, to benefit our local pregnancy center. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and the ride was a great success. Right now, they have raised 88% of their goal, which I'm sure will updated higher at the beginning of the week. That is (I believe) better than they usually do - so good news! It also seemed to me like they had more participation this year, which is also good!

+ Going to Wisconsin next week for a pastoral conference, and really looking forward to it. It is always nice to get away from the usual routine and spend some time with my brothers. Also have the District Board of Directors meeting, which will not be as much fun. Have some tough things to discuss and decisions to be made.

+The Phillies are off to a pretty good start - their record is 5-6 right now, but they have some really good talent on the cusp, so they are trending in the right direction. Last night, however, was abysmal. I got to watch as they played the Washington Nationals and so were on TV here, but they got smoked. Hopefully they'll do better tonight.

And now a thought I've been having . . . regarding Close(d) Communion practice in the Church . . .

It seems to me that not many churches actually practice what is called "open" communion. Oh, I'm sure there are a few that will commune anyone, anywhere, at anytime. But I think the great majority follow some sort of guidelines as to who may commune. So here's what I think the issue REALLY is: Who gets to decide? Is it the individual, or the pastor (in the name of the church/congregation)?

That, I think, is the crux of the issue. Our hyper-self focused, self-identifying, self-actualizing, self-centered, self-exalting culture puts the responsibility for deciding on the individual, while the Scriptures give that responsibility to the church. In our world today the former is acceptable, the latter is not.

To be brief, I'll just mention two Scriptures that speak to the church as having this responsibility. In the Old Testament, it was given to the priests to distinguish between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the profane. They did not announce a general description of what these things were and leave it up to the individual to decide where he or she fell - this was a task give to the priests. And even in Jesus' day, when He healed lepers, Jesus told them to "go show themselves to the priests." This was the church's culture.

Then in the New Testament, it is the apostles (and their successor) who are the stewards of the mysteries of God. They are the ones tasked with the proper distribution of the master's goods, to give them as He wants them given. It, again, is not left to the individual.

So that (I've been thinking lately) is really the crux of the issue - it is a clash of cultures. The world which believes authority lies in the self, and the Church which believes authority lies in God and His Word. Of course they're going to disagree! But what will the Church do?

1 comment:

Carl Vehse said...

"So here's what I think the issue REALLY is: Who gets to decide? Is it the individual, or the pastor (in the name of the church/congregation)?"

For individual and congregational members in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the confessional Lutheran understanding is again repeated in the various Whereas's in Overture 5-11, To Reaffirm Standard for Pastoral Admission to Lord’s Supper: Full Agreement in All Articles of Christian Doctrine (2016 Convention Workbook, p. 347) with the clear Lutheran conclusion in the Resolved: "That the LCMS reaffirm that the standard for pastoral admission to the Lord’s Supper is full agreement in all articles of Christian doctrine."

The congregation's responsibility is to encourage and assist the pastor to maintain that standard.