Weekly Communion

Letter from Board of Elders concerning weekly communion 9/08/2013:

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

After much discussion and input via meetings, with Calvary members, Bible Class, the comment box, individual conversations, and an open forum, along with prayerful consideration, we, the Board of Elders have chosen to continue the invitation to weekly communion at both services for all catechized Christians who desire it while, of course, those otherwise inclined are welcomed to abstain. We were compelled to this decision by dozens of members expressing support for the increased availability of Christ’s Sacrament over the summer months.

 

We share in the joy of members grateful for this decision, and we are likewise sympathetic toward members who have expressed concerns and may even be disappointed with this decision. We pray for forgiveness where our decision-making process does not meet members’ expectations, and pray that any offense toward us not be translated into offense toward Christ’s generous gift of the Sacrament, nor for your brothers and sisters of Calvary.

 

Please allow a brief explanation of how we came to our decision:

 

Based on the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, we knew a God-pleasing decision had to include the following characteristics:

  • The decision must confess that the Gospel in the Sacrament must never be made ‘Law’, as if it is a requirement to commune each week in order to be a faithful Christian (Large Catechism V, 42).

  • The decision must confess that the Gospel in the Sacrament must never be withheld from or made unnecessarily inconvenient for penitent sinners seeking Christ’s consolation with faith in these words, “for you.” (Small Catechism VI, Large Catechism V 64-65, 72).

We elders believe this decision meets the above criteria while lovingly providing proper spiritual care for all of the concerns listed below:

  • For those concerned about taking communion too frequently: All members are reminded that the availability of the Supper does not obligate one to partake. In fact, there are very Biblical reasons for individuals not to partake on a given Sunday; we exhort all to examine and prepare themselves rightly before coming. Thus, Christians are free to remain in the pew or even take their leave without sin or shame (while all confirmed members are still encouraged to make ‘regular’ use of Christ’s gift).

  • For those concerned about being able to receive the Sacrament: all penitent Christians desiring the Sacrament and prepared in accord with the Small Catechism may partake of Christ’s gift freely offered.

  • For those concerned about the service length: Not only may Christians leave without guilt after the Prayers of the Church, but we elders have also asked Pastor, and he has agreed, to omit the final hymn on a trial basis, beginning immediately. Such omission also incorporates good theological symbolism, highlighting the finality of our Lord’s Benediction: What more is to be said? Christ has the last word!

  • For those concerned about the tradition of communing every two weeks: Christians are free to maintain their personal pattern/tradition of receiving the Supper by abstaining every other week, but it is our hope and desire to return Calvary to the historic tradition of weekly communion practiced by the early Church and the Lutheran Reformation.

 

We pray that all members will find this decision amiable, for we have come to realize there is simply no other way to ensure that (1) no one is fed the Sacrament against their will, and (2) no one is burdened with undue hardship in getting to the Sacrament our Lord so abundantly offers and invites us to receive.

 

Pastor Bestul reminded us at this Tuesday’s meeting that “The pastor’s primary responsibility is to give the Gospel to those who know their need for it.” To help him carry out his responsibility of the Divine Call, we do best to make the Sacrament readily available for those who know their need and desire the gift. (We commend you to last Sunday’s sermon, at www.clce.org).

 

We have asked Pastor to implement this practice immediately. We also ask all to continually encourage each other in the spirit of Christian love to study Scripture both individually and corporately. On this issue, as well as for all our doctrine, we urge all Christians to know the benefit of learning Christ’s Word, cherishing it, and safeguarding it: “Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word!”

 

In Christ,

 

The Board of Elders, with Pastor Bestul

Chuck Traugott, head elder
Steve Baker
Vic Kovachevich
David Shaw
Steve White
Dan Hoppmann, congregational president


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