Saturday, December 23, 2017

Closed Communion Gone Wrong. . .

Overheard again.  We cannot have Holy Communion on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day because there will be visitors there who either do not understand or will not accept the discipline of closed Communion.

How sad it is that the ChristMass will not be a ChristMass at all for those who think there are just too many problems and too big a can of worms to deal with the issue of who may commune openly!  Instead, we will omit the Sacrament and betray the whole name of this holy day -- wimping out because we have either failed to teach this or just don't want to deal with it.  Really?  Is this the best we can do?

I am certainly not in favor or relaxing the discipline of the Table as some sort of Christmas gift to those who should not commune but neither am I agreeable to dispensing with the whole problem by banishing the Sacrament from the Christmas services of the Lord's House.  To those who feel compelled to omit the Mass from Christmass, it is time to step up to the plate and face the whole issue head on.  The people of God deserve better than avoiding the problem by avoiding the Sacrament.  There are ways to be responsible with who communes and to do so in a positive way instead of simply saying "no" to the people who are not in fellowship with us.  The risk of someone slipping through who should not be there is not a risk for the pastor who knows his flock and the pastor who is faithful in his explanation of and his practice of closed communion.

Our doctrine is not born of fear and neither is our practice.  So if you are in a parish where the Mass has been banished from Christmass, it is time to have a conversation with your pastor.  There is no requirement that the Sacrament be offered at every service time scheduled for Christmas Eve or Day but there is not need to omit it from the calendar because of a "what if" question.

Finally, an appeal to families.  If you are faithful members of an LCMS congregation and you will invite those not of our confession to join you in the Divine Service, you owe it to them, to your pastor, and to the faith to be informed of what closed communion is and to address your guest before you get to the church building on Christmas eve or morning.  Don't have that dear in the headlights look when the usher stops at your pew and your guests don't have a clue what they should or should not be doing.  Everyone can come to the rail for a blessing.  Nothing is more powerful to the person new to our church or to the faith as a whole than faithful people who prepare them for what is to come and how be a good guest.  When they see how important it is to you, they may just find the curiosity to discover how important it could be to them.  Will some be offended?  Yup, you can count on it.  But the true offense is not given to those who come looking to press the envelope and cause a scene.


Anonymous said...

No worries, our communion statement weeds out the unworthy (provided, of course, they read it).

Jason said...


Which communion statements? The model one Synod puts out is good. But in individual congregations? I have seen some hard closed communion, and also announced by pastors. I have seen some that are rather ambiguous and the pastor announces nothing, leaving everything up to the confused individual.

And you are most correct in if the even read it. Hmm, some might read it, disagree with it and trust their own liberal understanding and come up anyway, demanding to be served. Hot mess.

Jason Kiefer