Sunday, July 30, 2017

Juice du jour for Holy Communion???

HOLY COMMUNION – is offered during our worship.  A statement about what we, as Lutheran Christians, believe about ‘Receiving the Lord’s Supper’ is printed inside the front of the hymnals in the pews.  If you believe as we believe, please join us.  White grape or apple juice is available at the center of each tray for those who do not desire to receive red wine.

The issues our Synod faces with respect to the Lord's Supper are manifold.  On the one hand, some practice an open invitation to whomever feels good communing.  Thankfully, the number of these congregations tends to be small.  On the other hand, we have congregations where you practically have to give a pint of blood to receive the Lord's blood.  Thankfully, the number of these congregations is also relatively small.  In the middle we have congregations who try to be welcoming while still leaving it to the judgment of the individual about whether or not to commune and those who try to be welcoming but ask the difficult questions to prevent someone from taking the Lord's body and blood to their harm.  I probably should have changed congregations to pastors since the pastor makes the judgment although it is probably true that on either end the congregation has thoroughly bought into the pastor's practice.  In the middle, well, it all depends.  Some are embarrassed that their pastors ask at all and others are embarrassed that people they know do not believe what Lutherans believe seem to have a clear conscience about receiving at our altar.  We have spoken about that before.  But there is more.

Apparently it has become so common to use grape juice (or in the case above, apple juice?!?!) that no one really pays much attention to that.  I have to admit that I try to be welcoming to the Lord's Table and yet are more than clear about what we believe, teach, and confess and when that requires me to say no.  But I am growing ever more concerned about the growing tendency to fiddle with the elements of the Lord's institution.  It does not seem to concern pastor or parish that we substitute rice or another non-gluten host to anyone who happens to follow the current health craze against gluten and that we give people who don't like wine an opt out to fit their preference.  Note, that there are other ways of dealing with people with legitimate health issues that make gluten hosts and wine problematic.  I am speaking of those who simply have decided they don't like it or it is bad for people.  Do we allow any preference to govern what is used?  Is there a line to draw here?  Or am I being picky for even bringing it up?

Our concern for the Lord's own chosen elements is not our personal preference but goes to the heart of the Sacrament and our confidence that we are receiving what the Lord promised.  You can play with the words all you want but from the beginning of Christianity, bread (wheat) and wine (grape wine) have been the elements which accompany the Lord's Word and promise.  Now all of a sudden we feel free to tinker with it.  Can we also tinker with the Lord's Word?  We determined that Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier were not fit substitutes for the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in baptism.  Is it too much to say that certain things are not fit substitutes for wheat bread and grape wine?  If we can pick and choose substitutes, where does it stop?  Is grape juice acceptable but not apple juice or all juices from fruits of the vine?  If we agree with rice cakes, could we not also use potato chips?  I personally am more tempted by chips and beer than rice cakes and apple juice but isn't that the problem?  The Supper is not defined by our preference and taste but by the Lord's Word and example.


Anonymous said...

You either see church as what I am comfortable with as a consumer of goods and services making just another selection in the market place or you see it as what God provides for me in His word and sacrament, the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. He is the potter, we are the clay wherein there is both fear and trembling at hearing the Law, and the mystic sweet communion of comfort by hearing the Gospel.

Carl Vehse said...

That communion announcement comes from Concordia Evangelical Lufauxran Church, Wilmington, DE. On its home page Concordia Evangelical Lufauxran Church claims to be a member of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Anonymous said...

More LCMS parishes are going to using real bread rather than
the stamped wafers from CPH. It is an adiaphoria whether we
use wafers or real bread. However, we need to keep our focus
on the body and blood given and shed for our forgiveness.

John Joseph Flanagan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Skeptic said...

@Pr P: I'm curious as to what your alternative communion would be for those of us with mild gluten intolerance, as well as your position on azymes vs bread. Do you exclude us from an host like the RC's, or is there nit some liberty in the grains we use?

Carl Vehse said...

"If we agree with rice cakes, could we not also use potato chips?"

This remark appears facetious, given the LCMS FAQ on the use of Communion wafers that are gluten-free or made with various other grains. The FAQ references the 1983 CTCR report, "Theology and Practice of The Lord's Supper," especially pp. 13-14.

Carl Vehse said...

"If we agree with rice cakes, could we not also use potato chips?"

Coincidentally, in addition to offering for sale white and whole-wheat communion wafers, Concordia Publishing House sells gluten-free wafers containing:

"Filtered Water, Sweet Rice Flour, Potato Flour, Palm Oil, Potato Starch, Methylcellulose, Sunflower Lecithin, sodium pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, potato starch, monocalcium phosphate."

Anonymous said...

I have known two people in my lifetime with Celiac disease. Consumption of wheat is a serious issue for them. However only about 1 percent of the US population is affected, and less than one percent more have a serious wheat allergy. If that one in one-hundred person comes into a congregation, then it is encumbent on that person to inform the pastor. The situation should rarely be a problem to be dealt with. If a person is on a gluten free "Paleo" diet, it is common practice to have "cheat days." I would suggest that as an answer to that situation. As to wine, I know people on anti-depressants and other medications are advised not to drink alcohol. Really? The one swallow (whether you use individual cups or Chalice or both) you take can hardly be considered alcohol consumption. I am on an anti-depressant due to an autoimmune disease, and I have never felt any ill effects. There are folk who are allergic to grapes, to sulfites, and alcohol. Again they are a miniscule percent of the population. Most people with true serious allergies make sure they protect themselves.

As for the rest of us, don't we love to tamper with things? I've often wondered how much of this the Apostles had to deal with. 100 percent of the world's population has the problem of being allergic to anything that gets in the way of their desires and ideas.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Peters -

My many thanks for your daily articles. They are my first read online after my morhing devotions.

Ask yourself, and those who with, or imagining they are - celiacs but one question -

Would your Lord Jesus and my Lord, give you Himself in something that would harm you in either body or soul?

Alcoholics? I dipped a toothpick in the wind, swiched it around, and put those individual cups in the center.

Visitors? Put a hlf sheet in the bulletin every Sunday and ask folks to reah it ANDDDDDDDD check with you before Taking the Eucharist.

Rev. Jeff Baxter
Pastor Emeritus
Houston, Texas

Pastor Peters said...

There are hosts (even ones approved by Rome) which have such a minimal level of gluten that celiac sufferers can use them quite well (I use them with several right now). There is no requirement that, due to real health issues, someone cannot commune on one form only (the bread for those who cannot have alcohol or the cup for those who cannot have any gluten). We have a couple who use this option. There is also very low alcohol wine (mustum) available. It is not a matter of those who CANNOT but those who CHOOSE not to use the elements of our Lord and consistently through history. When I come to a parish and find dozens of individual cups separated with some sort of juice in them, am I to think that many people in the parish cannot tolerate even the barest sip of the wine? Likewise the host.

People are misreading this whole post as if it is directed toward those who cannot tolerate gluten or alcohol (a very, very small number of people who can commune without even the extreme of apple juice or rice floured hosts but with judicial and careful use of the real options before us). The post was really directed at the preferences NOT based on real need. Please read it in that light.

Anonymous said...

We have a couple of "recovering" alcoholics but we also have a lady who married into the church and brings her faith traditions with her and uses grape juice because drinking alcoholic beverages is a sin. We have an admixture of various faith traditions in our little church that allow for macro-evolution, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, open communion, and contemporary worship. So much for unity of spirit in the bond of peace. People have been allowed to become members and given admission to the Supper without any meaningful catechesis and allowed to persist in false teaching. Pastors and gentlemen, this is so messed up.

Anonymous said...

LCMS congregation. The last night of pre-communion study, the pastor let the youth try wine & grape juice and told them they can take grape juice if they don't prefer wine. Communion tray at end of table after their first communion = inner circle of grape juice cups in center nearly gone. True and sad story.