SOMEONE WANTS TO KNOW…
“Why do we sometimes allow guests who are not members of an LCMS congregation to receive communion at St. Paul Lutheran?”
This is a good question. The simple answer is, “Because it is the stated position of our synodically adopted resolutions to provide the Lord’s Supper to those for whom the Lord intends it, with proper pastoral care to be exercised when those individuals are not communicant members of a congregation with whom we are in church fellowship.”
A longer answer is that our practice of Close(d) Communion is intended to protect the communicant from receiving the Sacrament to his/her damnation. Dr. Martin Luther wrote: “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.”
A person who communes should be a baptized believer who is properly prepared to receive the Lord’s Supper. That is why our communion registration card outlines preparation for Holy Communion as follows: 1) Do you REPENT of your sins? 2) Do you BELIEVE in Jesus as your Savior for full forgiveness and in the presence of His body and blood in the bread and wine? 3) Do you INTEND to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit in a more committed life with Jesus? All of this is included in having faith in these words: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’
We take it for granted that a communicant member of an LCMS congregation knows how to examine and prepare him/herself for Holy Communion. We clearly require that anyone who has doubts about this teaching or believes differently than we do should talk with the Pastor before planning to receive communion.
The ordinary practice is for all communicant members to receive the Lord’s Supper. Any situations outside the ordinary are dealt with under proper pastoral care. If you have additional concerns about this, you are urged to speak with the Pastor about it!