Is the Lord's Supper important to us? I hope so and pray that section 47a of the "Proposed Statement on the Practice of Word and Sacrament" is amended on the floor of this month's Churchwide Assembly.
Under this paragraph, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastors who run out of the sacramental elements during communion would not be required to repeat the words of institution and consecrate additional bread or wine that might be brought up later for distribution. Communicants wouldn't know for sure whether they are being given consecrated or unconsecrated bread and wine.
This is a serious issue.
First, it will trouble consciences. Without the word of Christ, we have no guarantee of the sacramental presence of his body and blood. Without the word joined with the food there is no sacrament, only mere bread and wine.
Second, it violates the integrity of the thanksgiving meal. Our Lord took a particular loaf of bread and blessed God with it, saying, "This is my body, given for you." He blessed that loaf of bread, not an entire bakery or bread from next door or whatever bread might be carried into the room later. The prayer and the meal are one and should not be separated by bringing in bread that has not been used to bless God.
Third, it puts up ecumenical stumbling blocks. The proposed section does not reflect ancient tradition or today's ecumenical practice. If there is a shortage of elements, Lutherans, along with Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Orthodox and others from historic Christian churches, have broken the consecrated bread into smaller pieces or consecrated new bread. Our friends in other denominations would be surprised at Lutherans changing the rules as we go along.
This part of the sacramental practices statement takes us down the wrong path. Let's amend it and guarantee our Lutheran confession of the real presence.
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