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Communion Reflection

June 1st, 2013 Comments off

 

communionreflection

On my heart imprint Thine image,
Blessed Jesus, King of Grace,
That life’s riches, cares and pleasures
Have no power Thee to efface.
This the superscription be:
Jesus, crucified for me,
Is my Life, my hope’s Foundation,
And my Glory and Salvation.

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A Hymn After Receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion

March 5th, 2013 Comments off

Matthew Carver has provided yet another beautiful old communion hymn, I’ll post the hymn first, then his notes about it, quite fascinating! Be sure to subscribe to his blog site to receive these gems directly.

O JESUS, how contented,
How rich Thou makest me!
That Thou hast here consented
To be so lowly-tented
That I might dwell with Thee.

2. Thou Blessing without measure,
Thou bringest naught but good:
Now every goodly pleasure
Is made my endless treasure,
My soul’s availing flood.

3. Though many griefs oppress me
While in this body bent,
The hardships that distress me
Must all be made to bless me
Since God His Son has sent.

4. All doubts about salvation
Are hereby chased away!
I know my future station
Is heaven’s sweet elation
With Jesus as my Stay.

5. O Son of God, I bless Thee
Thou Lifeblood of my heart:
Wherein I’ll keep and dress Thee,
With kiss of faith caress Thee,
And ne’er from Thee depart.

6. O Jesus, Source of gladness,
Thou Child of man most fair,
Thou art my Hope in sadness;
Thou wilt o’er worldly madness
Grant worlds without compare.

7. There with all admiration
Upon Thy face I’ll gaze;
Here faint is my confession,
Yet there with jubilation
Thee, Jesus, I will praise.

8. Lo, here my quest is finished,
I’ve found whom I adore!
Dark hours of woe are banished
And with them all is vanished
That caused me grief before.

9. No sorrow hath my dwelling,
Where Christ my soul adorns,
In gladness beyond telling,
All countries else excelling,—
A rosebed free from thorns.

10. To Jesus clinging ever,
I will not from Him go.
His comforts most I favor,
His treasures all I savor
Who Manna doth bestow.

11. My Jesus cannot grieve me,
Cannot His bride detest,
No might can make Him leave me,
Nor from His love deceive me—
Who looks to Him is blest.

Translation © 2013 Matthew Carver.

Read more…

Come In and Fill My Soul, Sweet Guest — A Hymn for Holy Communion

March 2nd, 2013 Comments off

A great hymn translated by Matthew Carver.

Picture 7

 

 

 

Come In and Fill My Soul, Sweet Guest

Communion hymn “Erschein, o süßer Seelengast”

(Benjamin Prätorius, ca. 1668), as found in Burg’s hymnal

COME IN, and fill my soul, sweet Guest,
With gladness like no other,
Come, Thou my soft Repose and Rest,
Come, true and heav’nly Brother!
And oh, how kind Thy coming here,
Beneath a sinner’s roof to peer,
A fainting soul to visit!

2. My heart, how is it filled with bliss
When I behold this wonder,
That stirs me, more than even this
Thy saving work to ponder!
Thy blood and body when I take,
Then myriad joys within me wake—
A foretaste of life yonder.

3. How good Thou art, O wondrous God,
To spirits mourning sadly;
Thou wilt not let them feel the prod
Of those who scorn them madly.
Thy rich defense is here at hand,
Defying fiend and wicked band
That e’er would dare to cross it.

4. Good Shepherd, here Thou feed’st me well,
Thy wholesome water sates me;
Thy gracious hands both hunger quell
And chase the foe that hates me;
And wilt Thou even give me Thee?
What earthly treasure can there be
To pay for such affections?

5. Sweet Jesu! have my thanks in full!
Thou Master art of healing,
Thy cure avails where sick my soul
With Adam’s wound lies reeling.
Lord Christ, my thanks, my thanks again!
Thou art my Good Samaritan,
My soul and body’s Savior.

6. Thy word is sure, Thy promise true,
Thy heart will never waver;
Our ev’ry wound Thou dost endue
With ointment of Thy favor;
As Thou hast sworn, Lord, I attest,
More as a king Thy wretched guest
Thou here hast fed and tended.

7. When pangs of mortal hunger loom,
When heart and soul must languish,
Then come, My Bread of heaven, come,
With joys to chase my anguish;
Thy precious blood within the Meal
In dying grant me life and weal,
And lest I fail, sustain me.

8. O God, how glorious, holy, high,
And great Thy name is ever!
How holy is Thy majesty,
How base my best endeavor!
A worthless seed, I sup, and Thou,
Lord Christ, art knitted to me now,
And must Thy member cherish.

Translation © 2013 Matthew Carver.

GERMAN

1. Erschein, o süßer Seelengast,
daß ich mich hoch erfreue;
komm an, du meine Ruh und Rast;
wie groß ist deine Treue,
daß du zur Seele, die so schwach,
hier unter eines Sünders Dach
so brüderlich einkehrest!

2. Groß Herzenslust hab ich daran,
wenn ich dein Wunder merke;
doch mehr an dem, was du gethan
in dem Erlösungs-Werke:
wenn mich dein Leib und Blut erquickt,
sobald mein Geist viel Lust erblickt
mit Vorschmack jenes Lebens.

3. Wie gnädig bist du, Wunder-Gott,
der hochbetrübten Seelen;
du lässest sie ja nicht mit Spott
von stolzen Feinden quälen;
dein teurer Schutz mir steht bereit,
zu Trotz des Feindes Grausamkeit,
Trotz! wer es nicht kann lassen.

4. Wohl weidest du mich, treuer Hirt,
zeigst mir gesundes Wasser;
du tränkst mich, als ein treuer Wirt,
treibst ab den bösen Hasser,
und gibst dich selbst zu eigen mir:
was opfre ich dir denn dafür,
für diese Liebestaten?

5. Nun habe, süßer Jesu, Dank,
du hast mich wohl verbunden;
du stärkst mich, wenn ich liege krank
an alten Adams Wunden.
Ich danke dir, daß du, Herr Christ,
mein treuer Samariter bist,
willst Leib und Seele helfen.

6. Du hältest die Verheißung fest,
und meinst es gut von Herzen,
die treulich du geschehen läßst
Öl geußst du in die Schmerzen;
denn wie du, Herr, verheißen hast,
so hast du deinen armen Gast
jetzt königlich verpfleget.

7. Trifft mich der Seelen Hungersnot,
muß ich mein Herz abmatten;
so komme du, mein Himmelsbrot,
erfreulich mir zu statten;
dein teures Blut im Abendmahl
erfrische mich in Todesqual,
damit ich nicht verschmachte.

8. Wie herrlich, heilig, groß und hehr
ist, großer Gott, dein Name,
Wie heilig ist dein Ruhm und Ehr,
ich bin ein böser Same;
Jedoch, weil du mit mir, Herr Christ,
im Abendmahl vereinigt bist,
kannst du dein Glied nicht hassen.

The Problem with Closed Communion: Do We Still Believe the Lutheran Confessions are Correct, or Not?

January 30th, 2013 35 comments

Priest Holding Communion Wafer

One of the most misunderstood and therefore offensive practices in the historic churches of West and East is the practice of limiting participation in the Lord’s Supper to those who have been catechized and received as communicants in a given church. The practice, known most correctly as “closed communion”* is the universal practice throughout both Western and Eastern catholic churches, including, of course, the Lutheran Church, along with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic (or Eastern Orthodox) churches. The history of this practice is well known and there is simply no denying that it has been the Church’s historic practice. (see Elert’s Eucharist and Church Fellowship in the First Four Centuries.)

With the Reformation and the advent of the Zwinglian/Reformed/Calvinist views of the Supper (nuances of difference but finally not much of a difference), and with new understandings of what public confession of the faith meant, and the implications this has for participation in the Lord’s Supper, the entire Reformed wing of the Reformation no longer practiced closed communion and this lack of practicing closed communion spread widely wherever Reformed churches and those churches that spring from the Calvinist Reformation were established (Methodist and modern Baptist and modern Evangelicalism).

Of course, we here in the USA are literally surrounded by congregations that do not practice closed communion. Add now to the mix the fact that no liberal mainline protestant church body regards it necessary for there to be any restriction in who participates int he Supper, this is true for the liberal Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Lutheran and Episcopalian churches which are now in full communion fellowship anyway. The trend is now growing in all these church bodies not even to regard baptism to be a prerequisite for Holy Communion. The liberal Lutherans no longer insist that the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper articulated in the Book of Concord is alone the true confession of the Supper, so, in other words, all bets are off and it is, more or less, a “ya’ll come” approach to Supper fellowship, since there no longer is any certainty that in fact the actual body and blood of Christ are under the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

Sadly, even many congregations in confessional Lutheran churches think they have found a way to be more “open” about communion fellowship by putting a “statement” in their church bulletin which, in a variety of ways, puts the burden for the decision to commune, or not to commune, on the guest and visitor. Often the statements contain very intentionally vague declarations about “if you believe Jesus is truly present in His Supper” you are welcome to communion. But here is the problem: no self-respecting Christian of any denomination would likely deny that he believes “Jesus is present in His Supper” … in some way or another. And what is more, the Lutheran Confessions know of no practice by which a visitor simply presents himself at a congregations altar without first being examined to find out what it is they seek in the Supper and why they come. And this is hardly possible five minutes before the worship service begins. Let’s be honest about it, shall we? (see LC SA.2).

I’m growing more convinced that the reason that some Lutheran pastors no longer are willing to practice closed communion is because they simply are no longer are willing to insist on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as taught in our Lutheran Confessions. They are no longer willing to regard this assertion in the Augsburg Confession to be absolutely true and binding on them and their ministry and true and binding for any and all who approach the altar for Holy Communion: “Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise.” (AC X) And what is more, as we move further into the Lutheran Confessions we find very helpful ways to ascertain if in fact a person communing does confess the actual, true and real presence of the Lord Christ’s body and blood under the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Have we let convenience preclude adequate, careful, genuinely pastoral care? “Pastoral care” is not, or should not be, a euphemism for actions that reflect this attitude: “I know what our Synod’s stance is, but it seems to me to be unloving, who am I to judge what a person communing thinks or believes? I’ll take the path of least resistance and avoid confrontation and controversy.” Simply because a person says that they want to take Holy Communion is not the grounds on which to commune them. If they do not clearly and accurately believe, teach and confess the basic truths of what the Real Presence actually is all about, they should not be communed, no matter who their parents, grandparents, nieces, nephews, grandparents or spouse happen to be.

The great “litmus test” questions for a proper understanding are these:

(1) Do you believe the bread and wine are the Lord’s body and blood? (see SA III.vi)

This is a test to see if the person does believe and confess the unio sacramentalis .

(2) Do you believe that the Lord’s body and blood are put into your mouth and on your tongue? (see FC SD XII.105).

This is a test to see if the person does believe and confess the manducatio oralis

(3) Do you believe all who receive the consecrated bread and wine do actually receive the Lord’s body and blood? (see FC SD XII.26).

This is a test to see if the person properly understands and believes in the manducatio indignorum et impiorum. 

[Pastors, if you have forgotten the meaning and use of these three key Latin phrases, go get your dogmatics text and brush up please!].

But here’s the thing: nobody who can not faithfully answer those questions correctly should be communing, regardless of whether or not they claim to be Lutheran, let alone the casual visitor to a Lutheran congregation. That is, after faithful teaching and instruction, nobody should be admitted to the Supper who can not in good conscience say, “Yes, this if my faith and my confession.” The pastoral application of closed communion is not to be found in “making exceptions” to the confessional standards of the Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, but in discerning when and where a person may be communed who in fact does properly confess the Supper. This is where one may well find exceptions, for any number of valid reasons.

But again, there are no “exceptions” to the confessional standard. This point is sadly lost on far too many pastors, congregations and laity. In other words, just because your Methodist believing and confessing mother-in-law shows up a few times at the Lutheran church every year does not mean she is to be communed, nor the casual visitor to the Lutheran congregation who has been catechized in the Calvinist confession of the Supper, or no confession at all, is not to be communed while holding to this confession. And let’s be honest here: a few brief minutes before the Divine Service starts is hardly the place for pastoral examination and discernment in most cases.

Let it also be very clear: Where a person regularly communes and has thereby given his public witness that this is his confession, that then is his public confession. In other words, to use but one example, a person who communes at the altar of a congregation that is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is, by that action, giving public testimony that they consent with what that particular altar represents and stands for. In such a case, presenting oneself for participation in the Sacrament of an orthodox Lutheran congregation is not appropriate unless or until that person has moved away from that public confession within a heterodox church body.

And no, you do not have to require a person to read the Book of Concord. These three key truths are taught quite plainly and simply in the Small Catechism’s Sixth Chief Part.

And so, there you have it, the bottom line is simply this. All Lutheran pastors must examine their conscience and ask themselves this question: “Do I still believe, teach and confess that what the Lutheran Confessions assert about the Lord’s Supper is true, or not?”

 

* Yes, it is most properly “closed communion” not “close communion.” People think “close communion” sounds a bit less harsh. But here’s the point. A door is either open or closed, there is no such thing as a “close” door. The altar is open to some, closed to others. Our Lutheran Confessions make it clear the minister’s duty is both to invite and welcome some to the Altar and to turn others away (see AC XXIV.36).

Southern Baptists and the Lord’s Supper — But What About Lutherans?

September 18th, 2012 12 comments

It should come as little surprise to learn that, in the most recent survey of Southern Baptist pastors, the Lord’s Supper is offered only once a quarter and even less often by the vast majority of SBC congregations. This is a natural result of the SBC’s lack of a means of grace theology. The Supper functions as memorial meal that is done, well, perhaps out of a sense of duty more than any sense that the Lord actually gives through it, to His people the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation.

The question for Lutherans to ponder is this: is the Supper the beating heart of the Church’s life together, as well it should and must be, or is it simply a nice “extra” that adds fifteen minutes to the length of the worship service? I am casting this question in as starkly a way as I can.

Here’s the link to the survey

Crypto-Calvinism and Lutheranism: Cling to the Formula of Concord!

March 29th, 2012 Comments off

As we approach the observance of Maundy Thursday, we do well to recognize that, by far, the greatest threat to the pure doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, within the Lutheran church, remains “crypto-Calvinism.” The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America many years ago embraced it and thus surrendered the Lutheran Confessions on the Supper. Here are the prophetic words of Hermann Sasse on this point:

Never has a more dangerous enemy of the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord’s Supper appeared than this pure crypto-Calvinism. It is dangerous because this time it has taken hold not only of Electoral Saxony but of a great part of world Lutheranism. It is dangerous because there is scarcely a Lutheran church leader – with or without a bishop’s cross – who grasps its theological significance. It is dangerous because the modern Lutheran Church no longer seems to know how to wield the weapon that alone can overcome this opponent: the Scriptural witness of the “It is written.” Here lies the fundamental reason why the Formula of Concord is today coming under such heavy attack. In it Luther’s doctrine of the Lord’s Supper is formulated in such a way that one cannot give it a new interpretation.

from Hermann Sasse, “The Lord’s Supper in the Lutheran Church” Letter to Lutheran Pastors, No. 6 (May, 1949); Translation by Norman Nagel, published in We Confess.

[Note to readers: Beware historical revisionism that substitutes the phrase "crypto-Philippist" for "crypto-Calvinist." The ELCA's edition of the Book of Concord uses the term "crypto-Philippist" to replace the traditional, and truthful, phrase: "crypto-Calvinist." As the sainted Kurt Marquart put it, "There was nothing "cryptic" about Philip's students and supporters in Wittenberg, but they clearly were trying to hide their Calvinist doctrine!"]

How Does Jesus Keep Cleansing You With His Blood?

October 27th, 2010 Comments off

“The high priest brought the blood from the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the earthly altar for incense and the earthly altar for burnt offering (Heb 9:21). In this way he cleansed and consecrated these most holy things. Jesus, the great High Priest, sprinkles the heavenly things with his blood (Heb 9:23); with his own blood he sprinkles the hearts and consciences of those who serve the living God in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 9:13–14; 10:2, 22; cf. 9:9). In his Holy Supper he brings his blood from his Father’s presence and gives it to his guests to drink for their cleansing and sanctification. Thus, as Pfitzner has shown, Jesus performs an “ongoing ministry of atonement” by the application of his blood on his people.”

John W. Kleinig, Leviticus, Concordia commentary, 348-49 (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 2003).

The Sacrament of the Altar, On the Altar: The Lutheran Confession of the Presence of the Lord’s Body and Blood

September 20th, 2010 44 comments

It comes as quite a shock to a lot of Lutherans when they finally realize that authentic, confessing Lutheranism *does* actually believe that in the Lord’s Supper, the bread *is* the body of Christ and the wine *is* His blood. I can’t tell you how many times I have read out loud from the Smalcald Articles confessing this reality and heard people gasp when they learn it is a quote from Luther himself, and not merely a private opinion, but rather the formal public doctrine [publica doctrinae] of the Lutheran Church, because it is from the Smalcald Articles, one of the documents in the Book of Concord. The Smalcald Articles state: “We hold that bread and wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ.” (Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article VI).

For far too long, Lutheran congregations have heard pastors discussing the Real Presence by referring to the body and blood of Christ “in, with and under” the bread and wine. It is often said in a way that gives the impression we are qualifying the reality of the presence of Christ’s body and blood, rather than simply speaking in a concrete way about where the Lord’s body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar is concretely located. The Lutheran Confessions never actually use the words, “in, with and under,” in that precise order, although all three words are used to speak of the Real Presence, in various combinations.

The Lutheran Confessions speak most strongly about the presence of Christ in the Supper by using the term “under” the bread and wine. This is the language of the Small Catechism. This is the most concrete way to “locate” our Lord as He comes to us with His body and blood in the Supper. “In” is also a strong word, but “with” is, by far, the weakest term. Calvinists can speak of Christ being present “with” the elements, but they do so by making sure that they spiritualize that presence to the point that the body of Christ is actually located in heaven, as Calvin finally “comes clean” on in the Consensus Tigurinus. Do not ever let a Calvinist tell you that they do believe in the “Real Presence” for they do not believe the body and blood of Christ are under the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

But, as it has happened, over the years, the quick use of the terms “in, with and under” have been used in a manner that communicates, “Yes, we believe Christ’s body and blood is really present, but in, with and under the bread and wine.” Consider how even attempting to use these terms to qualify the presence of Christ actually doesn’t work either, upon closer examination. What bread? What wine? That which has been, by Christ’s Word, declared to be His body and blood, and becomes so by that all-powerful Word of Christ, spoken through the instrumentality of one of His ministers. When this happens we can be absolutely sure that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. Still bread, and still wine, they are however, by His Word and promise, His body and blood. So, again, when you hear Lutherans talk about “in, with and under” this is not mean to qualify or mitigate the actual presence of Christ’s body and blood, but to concretely locate it. This is why receptionism, the notion that the bread and wine can not said to be the body and blood of Christ until they hit the mouth of the communicant, is so utterly absurd. Any Lutheran Church that dogmatically insists on receptionism, or can not speak in a way that clearly affirms that the body and blood of Christ are truly present, at the moment the pastor consecrates the elements, is speaking in a way that is sub-Lutheran, since it is neither Biblical, nor Confessional.

I suspect there were more than a few Lutherans watching the Divine Service during the LCMS President’s installation gasping as they saw a man genuflecting to the elements of the Lord’s Supper at the moment they were consecrated. Why was He doing that? Because we hold that the bread and wine in the Supper are the true body and blood of Christ. Period.

The Lutheran Confessions cite Chrysostom favorably when they discuss the Lord’s Supper. Here is an excerpt from a new book on Chrysostom that underscores Chrysostom’s realistic way of talking about Christ’s presence in His supper.

“Most of the Doctors of the Church have some one point of the faith of which they are the classic exponents: thus, Saint Athanasius is the Doctor of the Divinity of Christ, Saint Augustine is the “Mouth of the Church about Grace”. By universal consent, Saint John Chrysostom is looked upon as the great defender of the holy Eucharist. He is the Doctor Eucharisticus. The Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence are the subjects to which he turns most often; his writings on this question form a complete defence and exposition of the teaching of the Catholic Church about her most sacred inheritance. In his homilies On the Sixth Chapter of St John, he develops the ideas that our Lord has given us “Bread from Heaven, that he who eats it may not perish”, that he himself is the “Living Bread that came down from heaven”, that we are to “eat his Body and drink his Blood”. “We must listen”, says Chrysostom, “to this teaching with fear, because what we have to say today is very awful.” He points to the altar and says, “Christ lies there sacrificed” “His Body lies before us”, “That which is there in the chalice is what flowed from the side of Christ. What is the Bread? The Body of Christ.” “Think, man, what sacrifice you receive in your hand [people took the Blessed Sacrament in their right hands], what altar you approach. Consider that you, dust and ashes, receive the Body and Blood of Christ.” We not only see the Lord, “we take him in our hand, eat, our teeth pierce his flesh, that we may be closely joined to him.” “What he did not allow on the cross, that he allows now at the Liturgy; for your sake he is broken, that all may receive.” “It is not a man who causes the Offering to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he himself who died for us. The priest stands there as his minister when he speaks the words, but the power and grace come from the Lord. This is my Body, he says. This word changes the Offering.” “With confidence we receive your gift,” he says in a prayer, “and because of your word we firmly believe that we receive a pledge of eternal life, because you say so, Lord, Son of God, who live with the Father in eternal life.” (pp. 120-21).”

From  The Greek Fathers: Their Lives and Writings (Ignatius Press, 2007; orig. 1908).

Awaken Hunger and Thirst for the Sacrament of the Altar!

September 19th, 2010 1 comment

Our task, dear brothers, is to stir our pastors and congregations up again and to practice that great “instruction” that Article XXIV of the Augsburg Confession requires of us. Let me, in conclusion, say a word about that.

Our first task is to celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar again and again quite seriously but also with the blessed joy of the first Christians (Acts 2:47). Moreover, we Lutherans have the great freedom that exists, as was already mentioned, in the celebration of the Roman Mass. It can take place in utter simplicity but also with the full splendor of the ancient liturgy of the Lord’s Supper, which Luther preserved and the Lutheran Church kept for two centuries with such great love as a priceless treasure.

That’s where the “instruction” comes in. Here we can learn from the liturgical movement of our time. On this point they are clearly right. Our people should know the meaning of the Gloria, the Preface, the Sanctus, the Benedictus and Hosanna, the Consecration as it is expounded in the Formula of Concord, the Agnus Dei, and the Communion. We can explain it to them in special lectures, but we can also do it in sermon and Bible class. So many texts emerge totally spontaneously: the great types of the Lord’s Supper in the Old Testament—Melchizedek, the sacrifice of Isaac, the Passover, manna, the miraculous feeding of Elijah exhausted to the dropping point in the wilderness. Then in the New Testament, besides the specific texts of the Lord’s Supper, there are all the parables and other sayings of the Lord that speak about the future messianic banquet, the Passion history together with the farewell discourses, the first church, the liturgical formulas in the epistles and in Revelation, everything that speaks of the church, and all texts about the high priestly and kingly office of Christ.

What totally new substance our confirmation instruction would receive if it again became sacramental instruction and the Fourth and Sixth Chief Parts did not just make up a more or less unrelated appendage. And don’t let anyone come up with the excuse that the children are not yet mature enough or that they would misunderstand it. Where that sort of thing is said, it may be assumed that the teacher is not yet mature enough. How one can say these things to children one can learn, with the necessary changes, from the Catholic instruction for First Communion. That is what we can do. The rest God must do: awaken the hunger and thirst for the Sacrament, which is always at the same time a hunger and thirst for the Word of God.

Hermann Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors VI, The Lord’s Supper in the Lutheran Church

On This Day in 1525, the Lord’s Supper Became a Symbol

August 17th, 2010 Comments off

…or, at least Huldrych Zwingli claimed it was.

On August 17, 1525, Zwingli, a leader in the Swiss Protestant Reformation, published the book “Subsidium sive coronis de eucharistia” in which he defended his novel belief that the bread and wine of the Eucharist were only symbols. He also rejected the idea that the Eucharistic liturgy was a sacrifice, relegating it to merely a “remembrance.” The reverberations of this book cannot be underestimated: today, the vast majority of Protestants accept Zwingli’s view, often not even realizing that it was not the view of Luther or even Calvin.

Let us pray that one day all Christians will be united in the one Eucharistic Body of the Lord, which is no mere symbol, but is truly the Real Presence of Christ among us, with His true body and true blood, under the bread and wine, for our forgiveness, life and salvation.

HT: Eric Sammons

The Fathers Speak: Receiving the Fleshly Gifts of God in Christ and His Supper

July 7th, 2010 Comments off

“If the mingled cup and the bread that has been made receives the Word of God and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made — and these are the things from which the substance of our flesh is increased and supported — how can they  [the Gnostic heretics Irenaeus is writing against] say that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life, when the flesh itself is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord and is one of His membes? The blessed Paul declares the same thing in his epistle to the Ephesians: “we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of of his bones.” (Eph 5:30). He does nto speak these words of some spiritual and invisible person, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones. Rather, he is referring to that dispensation by which the Lord became an actual man, consisting of flesh and nerves and bones—that flesh that is nourished by the cup that is his blood and receive increase from the bread, which is his body. And jsut as a cutting from a vine planted in the ground bears fruit in its season, or as a grain of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things, and then, through the wisdom of God, serves for the use of people, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and bloof od Christ—in this same way also ou bocies, being nourished by it and deposited in the earth and suffering decomposition there will rise at teir appointed time. The Word of God grnts them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality and to this corruptible incorruption, because the strength of God is made perfect in weakness.”

— Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.2.3; ANF 1:528.

Do You Want to be Close to Jesus? Here’s a Great Way!

June 22nd, 2010 2 comments

The Son of God Himself in this distribution and reception of His body and blood is also giving, applying, and sealing to you all the benefits He gained for us by the giving of His body and the shedding of His blood. Moreover, His new testament of grace sanctifies, confirms, and seals these benefits to you. Furthermore, He bestows His whole being in so intimate a union that He joins Himself to you with that nature with which He is our brother and consubstantial with us, and through which He accomplished the work of our redemption and propitiation.

— Blessed Martin Chemnitz, The Lord’s Supper, p. 64.

“Is” Does Mean “Is” — What Lutheran Churches Must Always Be Clear About

May 30th, 2010 1 comment

“The great doctrinal discussion which should begin between the churches that earnestly want to be Lutheran will have to deal with especially two doctrines: the doctrine concerning the Word of God and the doctrine concerning the Sacraments. Indeed, both doctrines will have to be treated alongside one another; for the means of grace cannot be sundered. Just as they belong together in the life of the church, even so they belong together also in theology. A person cannot at one and the same time have a Calvinistic or Crypto-Calvinistic doctrine concerning the Lord’s Supper and a “Lutheran” doctrine concerning the Word. When recently a pastor (with whom I am unacquainted and who hails from a North-German Lutheran Territorial Church) let it be known that I should ponder the fact that the Lord Christ had not at all spoken the word “is” in the Words of Institution, since Aramaic does not use a copula in that sort of sentence, I do not know what it is at which I should marvel the more: the erudition which does not know how to translate an Aramaic sentence in keeping with its meaning or this broken relation to the Holy Scripture.1 God’s word is, for the church of Christ in all ages, not an original text (Urtext) which is to be discovered behind the Greek and Hebrew words of the New and Old Testaments by scholars; rather, God’s Word is the Bible itself as it was given to us. I adduce this example only in order to show how closely the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper is connected with the doctrine2 that the Holy Scripture is really (realiter et essentialiter) the Word of God. Corresponding to the est in “Hoc est corpus meum” there is an est in the doctrine of the Scripture. “Hoc est verbum Dei” is what the church must be able to say concerning the Holy Scripture; otherwise it has no Holy Scripture.”

Toward Understanding Augustine’s Doctrine of Inspiration, Herman Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors XXIX, Feb. 1953

A Word to Those Who Are Going to Take Holy Communion

May 27th, 2010 3 comments

The following is from the Braunschweig-Woelfenbuettel Church Order of 1569, largely by Martin Chemnitz. Trans. by Andrew Smith. Unpublished manuscript.

“Most beloved in God, since we now desire to consider and conduct the Supper of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, in which is given to us his flesh for food and his blood for drink, not of the body, but of the soul, we should accordingly with great diligence each examine ourselves, as Paul [I Cor. 11:28] says, and then eat of this bread and drink of this cup. For no one should receive this holy sacrament except for a hungry soul, which knows its sin, fears the wrath of God and death, and hungers and thirsts for righteousness. But if we examine ourselves we find nothing in us but sin and death, neither can we in any way help ourselves out of this. For this reason our dear Lord Jesus Christ has had mercy on us, and became man for our sake that he might fulfill the law and suffer what debt we have earned with our sins. And so that we might firmly believe this and that we might joyfully rely upon this, after the supper, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said: “Take and eat, this is our body, which is given for you.” As though he would say, “That we [i.e. "I"] became man and everything which we do and suffer, all this is your own, and has happened for you and for your good. As a pledge of this we give you our body for food.” He took the cup likewise and said,”Take and drink from this, all of you. This cup is the New Testament in our blood, which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me,” as though he would say, “Because we have accepted you and laid your sins upon ourself, we will sacrifice ourself for sin, shed our blood, obtain grace and forgiveness of sins, and thus establish a New Testament, in which sin shall not be remembered. As a pledge of this we give to you our blood to drink. Who now thus eats of this bread and drinks of this cup, that is, who firmly believes these words which he hears and these signs which he receives, he remains in Christ and Christ in him and he lives eternally. Thereby we shall now consider his death and heartily give thanks to him, each take up his cross and follow the Lord [Mt. 16:24] and above all things love each other, just as Christ has loved us [Eph. 5:2]. For there is one bread and we many are one body, all partakers in one bread [I Cor. 10:17] and drinking out of one cup. So that we however all together in accordance with the teaching and admonition now heard may worthily receive the Holy Sacrament in correct, true faith and repentance, we will call on God the Father in the Name of Christ and heartily speak a pious Our Father . . . “

The Lord’s Supper is a Blessed Exchange

May 20th, 2010 Comments off

“There in the Supper it is not a mere man who deals with you individually, but Christ, your Savior himself, through his minister [diener]. And he says: “Take and eat. This is my body, which is given for you. Take and drink. This is my blood which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sin, etc.” In our flesh nothing good dwells. The sin which works in us many evil desires, hinders the good and often causes us to fall. Christ however in his Supper makes with us the blessed exchange [seligen wechssel]. For he through his holy flesh and blood unites himself with us so that he thus through his power ever more and more may crucify and kill the old Adam. And thus we all become one body in Christ where one member is to love, honor and advance the others. And in summary, he who finds that he is weak in faith has in the Lord’s Supper a blessed, powerful antidote [antidotum] that strengthens faith, etc. If this basis is diligently stressed, pious Christians will find themselves partaking of the Lord’s Supper often and with great devotion. And also on these grounds they can instruct themselves regarding the use, fruit and consolation which poor, troubled consciences find in the right use of the Lord’s Supper. However, if a person will not allow himself to be moved by these reasons one can know what kind of Christian he is.”

Martin Chemnitz, Braunschweig-Woelfenbuettel Church Order, 1569.