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HOLY COMMUNION
UNDERSTANDING CLOSE COMMUNION

Does Your Church Practice Close Communion?

Yes, we do.  Many Churches today practice "Open Communion", which means that anybody off the street can come into their Church and take Communion.  Sadly, there is no questioning about whether or not that person is a baptized Christian, whether or not they are living for Jesus, or if they even understand what they are receiving in Holy Communion.  While we desire all people to be able to participate in Communion and encourage frequent communing, the Bible clearly teaches that only Christians who properly understand what they are doing and receiving in Communion, should partake. Therefore, our Congregation and our Denomination practices what is called ‘close or closed Communion’, meaning that before you take Communion at our Churches, we ask you to take a Communion Class first to properly learn what Communion is all about.  Again, we want people to be able to come to Communion, but in love for their souls and for God's Word, we want people to first understand the important and weighty things that the Bible says about communing.  This is why we ask those who are new to our Church to go through a Communion Class.


Some might say "this is an unloving and snobish practice!"  But actually, it is a loving thing to do for those we do not know.  Again, it is not that 'we just don't wan't people to commune' or that we are trying to say that we are 'better than other Christians'.  The Bible teaches that:

 


1.   We should “examine” ourselves before Communion (1 Corinthians 11:28).  Each person should be properly prepared before coming to the Lord's Table.  They should know the 10 Commandments and examine their lives by them.  They should realize that this Supper is not just a 'snack' or 'memorial meal', but Christ gives His true Body and Blood with the Bread and Wine for the forgiveness of repentant sinners.  In realizing this, they walk away strengthened in the Faith and commited to follow in Christ's ways.  Since many people do not know how to properly prepare themselves for this Sacrament, we teach this in our Communion Class ("New Life in Christ" Class).

 


2.  A person who does not understand Communion may unknowingly sin against God:  Scripture says that if we take Communion in an “unworthy manner” we will be “guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27), and that if we do not recognize the body of the Lord in Communion we ‘eat and drink judgment on ourselves’ (11:29). We don't want these things to happen to people and most don't realize Scripture says this.  Therefore in love for people, we choose to first instruct people before taking Communion so that they won't sin against Christ.

 


3.  We should walk together in a common Faith:  "I have written you in my letter not to associate with fornicators— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." - 1Cor 5:9-11    When a visitor comes to our Church, we know nothing of their background or where they are spiritually.  Even if they have been a faithful Church-goer, many Churches today neglect talking about sin and ignore or even deny some of the Bible's teachings.  Those who share Communion are to share a common faith - thus the meaning of the word, "commune" ('to share and have in common'). 


Even among Lutherans denominations, beliefs can greatly vary.  So while we are ALWAYS GLAD to have visitors and welcome them with open arms, there is a special intimacy shared in Communion.  We would love to share more with you on these things in a 'New Life in Christ' Class.



Q & A

"What if I'm visiting and am already a member of an ELS or Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church (WELS) Church?"

If you are already a communicant member in good standing with either of these Church Bodies, then we know that you have already been rightly instructed in a Communion/Confirmation class, share our Faith, and invite you to commune with us.  Please let Pastor or the Usher know this before Service.



"What if I am a Lutheran of another Lutheran Denomination like the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod or ELCA?"

There are good Christians in every Church Body, and we not only acknowledge this, but thank the Lord for such a fact!  We believe in "one holy, Christian, and apostolic Church", part of which means Christ's Church is not equated to one particular Denomination or even with being "a Lutheran".  To be saved is to repent (constantly hating and turning away from sin) and to believe and trust that Jesus Christ by His amazing grace has done the work to save us by His life, death, and resurrection.

However, there are differences within even Lutheran Church Denominations.  These differences are not just on 'Church politics' or 'incidentals', but on God's Word, and any deviation from God's Word should not be taken lightly.  So because we have differences in doctrine (that is, God's teachings), we do not share the same communion/fellowship, and therefore do not commune together.  This does not mean there are never exceptions from time to time.  But most people who visit us from another Lutheran Church Body are from out of town and here just for one Sunday.  In such cases we encourage them just to wait and take Communion at their own Congregation where they are members.  Missing Communion for one Sunday certainly won't kill anybody!



"But won't everyone notice if I do not take Communion?  I feel alienated."

The last thing we ever want anyone to feel at our Church is uncomfortable or alienated!  So please take this to heart:

1.  We're too busy to notice!:  During Communion distribution, everyone is either busy singing the Communion Hymn or else up at the Altar communing.  So most won't even notice if you are not communing.  And if someone does notice a new person not communing, they will certainly understand why!  Don't worry about it!  Just sing the hymn along with the rest of the Congregation!

2.  You may come receive a blessing:  If you wish, you may come with the rest during Communion and receive a blessing.  Some that who are presently taking a Communion Class come forward for this.  Just fold your arms so that Pastor knows you are not communing today. Children also are welcome to come forward for a blessing.  The goal of our Communion practice is not to make you feel ‘alienated’, but to help you receive the full benefit and blessing of that the Lord intends to come from His Supper.


3.  Did you know that even if close communion is a new practice to you, many Denomiations practice it?:  In addition to ELS, WELS, and many LCMS Churches, so do the Roman Catholics; many Baptist Churches; Apostolic Christian Churches; Church of God in Christ; Mennonites; and some Reformed Churches. 



If you have any other questions about Communion please talk to me, and I'll be happy to answer as best I can!


Pastor Dan McQuality

Copyright 2006 Lord of Life Lutheran Church. All Rights Reserved.