Sunday, February 26, 2012

Much ado over nothing... or NOT

Once again a parishioner has related to me a war story over the terrible abuse of that which remains of the elements in the Lord's Supper.  In this case, the individual cups (the only means of distribution of the Lord's blood) and the hosts that remained were summarily tossed in the garbage.  I am sure that we have heard them all.  In my seminary days, a faculty member admitted to putting it all in the toilet and disposing of it with a flush!

Though we also use individual cups (the parish did not use the common cup regularly prior to my coming here), it is our practice that all the remains of the cups not used be poured back into the cruet at the altar at the end of the distribution.  All the cups are then rinsed with the water from that rinsing and the remains of those cups then returned to the earth via the sacrarium (or piscina).  This is to be done a second time as well so that nothing that might be treated as common or ordinary.

Our practices are often the Achilles' heel of our Confessional integrity and nothing is more prone to cast doubt on our sincerity in confessing the Real Presence than what we do with what remains of the Supper.  The rubrics of the LSB Altar Book direct that the remains be brought to order and covered with a veil at that altar (at least during the service).  Absent the LSB Desk Edition with its expanded rubrics, the next best thing is to review the directions in The Altar Guild Manual: Lutheran Service Book Edition  published by CPH and bearing the imprimatur of the Commission on Worship.  Therefore, its directions assume rubrical authority within our church body.

If any of the Lord's body and blood remain, they can be disposed of in a number of ways. The best way is to consume the remaining elements, since the Lord said, "Take and eat...Take and drink," and did not provide for anything that was left over. There is historic precedent *for reserving* the remaining elements against the next Communion. The hosts can be stored in a pyx or ciborium (apart from unconsecrated hosts), the blood of the Lord in a suitable cruet or flagon (apart from unconsecrated wine). What remains in the chalice, however, should either be consumed or poured into the piscina or onto the ground, since there may be crumbs or other foreign matter in it. *The reserved elements* may then be kept in the sacristy or placed on the altar or credence and covered with a white veil. It is un-Lutheran and irreverent to place unused elements in the trash or to pour the remainder of what is in the chalice or flagon into the common drain. - p. 89

So the real option is consumption -- consume remaining elements immediately OR consume them later (having put the consecrated hosts into the proper receptacle --not mixing them with unconsecrated hosts; put consecrated wine from flagon or cruet --or remaining unused individual glasses -- into the proper receptacle --not mixing it with unconsecrated wine.  Pouring the remaining wine from chalice into the piscina or onto the ground is a secondary option with consumption now or later definitely the preference for good Lutheran practice.

1 comment:

DentM42 said...

Very timely notes for my own context! Thank you!

A question arises in my mind regarding reserving the elements against the next communion. What are the rubrics during consecration with these elements? Are they to be brought together (though not "mixed") with the unconsecrated elements before the consecration or ought they be brought together after? If there is no credence table and they are to be brought together after, what is the best way to make clear to the gathered congregation that these are the reserved elements and not supplemental elements brought out because of a lack?