Question: I was a confirmed Church going Catholic for 24 years until I married my wife and joined the Lutheran Church.? Growing up as a Catholic I became confused and concerned by actions of the Church that appeared to be contradictory to what I read in the Bible and even to sermons that were preached by my priest.
I learned that the supreme sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ was “THE” sacrifice, yet my Church promoted fasting and not eating meat on certain days as if by doing that I was somehow instrumental in my own salvation by MY sacrifice.? I dipped my hands in Holy Water, I confessed my sins in a confessional to an ordained man who then advised me to say a certain number of prayers which again implied that my actions, penance, and his forgiveness had something to do with my salvation.? You can see why I was confused.
After worshiping with my wife and learning Luther’s Small Catechism I was, and still am, thrilled and thankful to belong to Zion, a Church that does not confuse me, nor does it compromise the word of our Lord.? This brings me to my concern and question.
Why have we changed and now have the Lord’s Supper every service?? Is our Church changing, and if so why?? Were we wrong in the past by having Communion less frequently? Are we jumping on the Catholic bandwagon so to speak, and what would Martin Luther say?
A confused member
Answer: Thank you very much for your questions.??I particularly appreciate your candor in describing how confusing the Roman Catholic church can be.? Let?s take your questions in order.? As you write, we have recently changed to celebrating the Lord?s Supper in every service.? Like all changes, this one too can be a little unsettling and lead to the very questions that you ask.? Change in itself is neither good nor bad; the deeper reasons to change or not to change must be examined.
Why have we made this change here at Zion?? We celebrate the Lord?s Supper in every service because of the great blessing that it is and grants to us.? In this sacrament is Jesus? body and blood, that body and blood which won forgiveness for us, given to us to eat and to drink.? This body and blood comes with God?s promise that he grants forgiveness with it.? This is a great gift, a tremendous benefit that comes from the sacrament.? It meets the great need that we have.? As sinners in a sinful world, Jesus? body and blood gives us strength to face temptation, comfort in distress and sorrow, and hope in times of uncertainty.? In short, we celebrate the Lord?s Supper every service because of the great benefit of the sacrament and because of our great need for forgiveness and strength.
Is our church changing?? Yes and no.? Communion every service is a change from what has been done here at Zion and in many Lutheran churches in recent years. ?In this regard, yes, the church is changing.? But it is a change BACK to what the Lutheran church once was and did.? For more than two centuries after the Reformation, the Lutheran church celebrated communion every Sunday.? In fact, this is attested to in our Lutheran Confessions (Augsburg Confession XXIV).? Nor was every Sunday communion something new in the Lutheran church.? Between the days of Jesus and the Reformation (that is, for nearly 1,500 years), every Sunday communion was celebrated in all churches throughout the world with very, very few exceptions.? It was not until the 1700?s that churches slowly began to drift away from every Sunday communion.? Thus most churches throughout history have celebrated communion every Sunday.? Seen from this broad perspective, our church then is not changing, but instead undoing a change that was made, recovering the practice of the Lutheran church.
Were we wrong in the past?? Certainly not.? No command can be found in scripture to celebrate communion every Sunday.? Our forefathers, living with the traditions they inherited, simply did not enjoy the blessings of communion every week.? This is not sinful.? As Lutherans, however, we base our practice not just on what has been done in the past (tradition), but on what God?s word tells us.? And God?s word shows us the benefit of the sacrament and our great need for it.
Are we following the Catholic bandwagon?? From what has already been said, it should be clear that no, we are not following the Catholic
bandwagon.? We are not celebrating communion every service to be like the Catholics, but for the reasons stated above.
What would Luther say?? Most of the thoughts above are taken from Luther himself.? They can be found in Luther?s Large Catechism, part of the Confessions of our congregation and Synod.? Here, in ten pages, Luther first summarizes what the sacrament is, what benefits it gives, and who receives these benefits.? He then concludes with an admonition and encouragement to partake of the sacrament diligently and
frequently.? I encourage you and all members of Zion to read this section of Luther?s Large Catechism.? If you do not own a copy, you may borrow one from either one of the pastors.
Thank you once again for your question.? There is much more that could be said about celebrating communion every service.? If you or anyone else would like to discuss this matter further, please talk to one of the pastors.? It is my hope and prayer that God will work in all of us a heart that sees the great blessings that he offers in communion and the wonderful opportunity we have to receive those blessings every week.