739 19th St. SE; Paris, TX 74560 903-784-3753
Holy Communion Practice
The Holy Supper
Out of love for our neighbor and not wanting them to receive God's judgment unwittingly, Grace Lutheran Church practices "closed" communion. That is, we withhold Holy Communion to all who have not been properly catechized in the six chief parts of the Christian religion as explained in Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, who are not confirmed in the Lutheran faith, who are not in altar and pulpit fellowship with the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, or those who do not fully attest to the Lutheran Confessions. As such; all visitors seeking to receive Holy Communion are asked to speak to the pastor prior to Divine Service.
Our Confession of the Pure Doctrine of the Holy Supper is, according to: The Formula of Concord, Part I: The Epitome, Article VII; The Holy Supper of Christ, that:
1. We believe, teach, and confess that in the Holy Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and essentially present and are truly distributed and received with the bread and wine.
2. We believe, teach, and confess that the words of the testament of Christ are to be understood in no other way than in their literal sense, and not as though the bread symbolized the absent body and the wine the absent blood of Christ, but that because of the sacramental union they are truly the body and blood of Christ.
3. Concerning the consecration we believe, teach, and confess that no man’s work nor the recitation of the minister effect this presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, but it is to be ascribed solely and alone to the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. But at the same time we believe, teach, and confess with one accord that in the celebration of the Holy Supper the words of Christ’s institution should under no circumstances be omitted, but should be spoken publicly, as it is written, “ the cup of blessing which we bless ” ( 1 Cor. 10:16 ; 11:23–25 ). This blessing occurs through the recitation of the words of Christ.
The Catechism asks:
What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.
Where is this written?
The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul write:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: "Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me." In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament, in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
What does Christ give us in this sacrament?
In this sacrament Christ gives us His own true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.
Matt. 26:26, 28 "This is My body.… This is My blood.
What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?
These words, "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: "forgiveness of sins."
Who receives this sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."
But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words "for you" require all hearts to believe.
Why is it important to receive the Sacrament worthily?
It is very important because St. Paul clearly teaches: "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Cor. 11:27–29).
How are we to examine ourselves before receiving the Sacrament?
We are to examine ourselves to see whether:
A. we are sorry for our sins;
B. we believe in our Savior Jesus Christ and in His words in the Sacrament;
C. we plan, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to change our sinful lives.
Who must not be given the Sacrament?
The Sacrament must not be given to the following:
A. Those who are openly ungodly and unrepentant, including those who take part in non-Christian religious worship.
B. Those who are unforgiving, refusing to be reconciled. They show thereby that they do not really believe that God forgives them either.
C. Those of a different confession of faith, since the Lord’s Supper is a testimony of the unity of faith.
D. Those who are unable to examine themselves, such as infants, people who have not received proper instruction, or the unconscious.
Pastors as stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1) have the greatest responsibility as to who should be admitted to the Sacrament. Some of the responsibility also rests with the congregation and the communicant.