Author Topic: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016  (Read 10400 times)

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12061
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2016, 11:14:18 PM »
Two instances of noncommuning come to mind.  At one circuit meeting that I was hosting, for the service I used a service from the old Worship Supplement (late 60s) that used a Eucharistic Prayer.  One of the pastors refused to commune because of the prayer, that is what he said.

Earlier, while I was in college, I was visiting somewhere during the Christmas break.  My host and I stopped by the LCMS church that he attended for a special communion service that they were hosting for their college students who were home for Christmas.  The liturgy was designed to appeal to early 70s college students.  We were all basically sitting around in a circle taking turns reading parts of the service.  The Creed was one of those home rolled 70s trendy creations that were popular then and reflected all the in concerns and beliefs of the era.  We went around the circle reading clauses from the creed, if you didn't like the clause that is was your turn to read, just skip it for the next.  After looking over the creed, my host and I looked at each other and quietly left.  A creed that you just pick and choose bit and pieces was no creed.  The rest of  the  service was just as unappealing.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 12:46:30 AM by Dan Fienen »
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12061
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2016, 11:19:46 PM »
Just an observation: there is absolutely nothing that ought constrain a person to receive the Eucahrist at any given celebration. When a pastor chooses not to commune on a given day, why does that lead to folks assuming that the pastor was thereby making a statement of not being in fellowship? One does not know why someone is not communing (unless, as in the case Jonathan mentions, they tell you), and we ought not assume that we know if we haven't been explicitly told, and we have the obligation to explain our neighbor's actions in the kindest way.

This is not intended as argument, but a genuine question: the Book of Concord and Luther's writings encourage us to be refreshed and renewed frequently by the Lord's body in our battle against our fleshly weakness. They talk about every holy day and every time it is requested. (e.g AC XXIV and LC V 24ff ) Given this encouragement, what reasons would one give for refraining from the Sacrament when offered, if not objections regarding its right administration?

In other words, I agree with your exhortation to put the best construction upon another's choice to refrain, but among fellow LCMS clergy, what construction are you suggesting?

Or maybe another way to ask the question (if it isn't an invasion of privacy): are there circumstances, unrelated to fellowship/administration, under which you would refrain from communion when it was offered to you?
I've known some older Lutherans, now deceased from old age and from the age in which every Sunday communion was not common, when attending church and not expecting communion but finding it being offered would not commune because they had not prepared themselves to commune as they were accustomed to do.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Steven W Bohler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 3621
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2016, 11:38:52 PM »
Just an observation: there is absolutely nothing that ought constrain a person to receive the Eucahrist at any given celebration. When a pastor chooses not to commune on a given day, why does that lead to folks assuming that the pastor was thereby making a statement of not being in fellowship? One does not know why someone is not communing (unless, as in the case Jonathan mentions, they tell you), and we ought not assume that we know if we haven't been explicitly told, and we have the obligation to explain our neighbor's actions in the kindest way.

This is not intended as argument, but a genuine question: the Book of Concord and Luther's writings encourage us to be refreshed and renewed frequently by the Lord's body in our battle against our fleshly weakness. They talk about every holy day and every time it is requested. (e.g AC XXIV and LC V 24ff ) Given this encouragement, what reasons would one give for refraining from the Sacrament when offered, if not objections regarding its right administration?

In other words, I agree with your exhortation to put the best construction upon another's choice to refrain, but among fellow LCMS clergy, what construction are you suggesting?

Or maybe another way to ask the question (if it isn't an invasion of privacy): are there circumstances, unrelated to fellowship/administration, under which you would refrain from communion when it was offered to you?

Rev. Morris,

The passage you mention from the Book of Concord deals not with how often to receive, but how often the Sacrament is offered.  Perhaps a better reference would be Luther's "Christian Questions With Their Answers", the 20th question/answer:

20. But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?
To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15–16 and in 1 John 2 and 5.
Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.

But even that does not really address the frequency of reception, but rather whether one feels no need of the Sacrament....

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 42269
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2016, 01:08:28 AM »
Here's a question: how many of us view ourselves to be in communion with herchurch, a congregation in good standing with the proper ecclesial authorities?

http://www.herchurch.org/


I would attend it. I've met the pastor and like her. She's also a professional photographer and I used some of her photos for some brochures I was creating for an ALCM event in San Francisco. She is able to reach a group of people other churches cannot. Nadia Bolz Weber's congregation is similar. There is a target audience that they are designed to reach and they do it - and don't worry about the other people who might be offended.


A time another pastor and I walked out of a synod worship event was when we knew none of the songs, there was no music for us musicians to read from, so it had become a concert by the musicians. It wasn't a worship service for us.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 42269
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2016, 01:11:55 AM »
Just an observation: there is absolutely nothing that ought constrain a person to receive the Eucahrist at any given celebration. When a pastor chooses not to commune on a given day, why does that lead to folks assuming that the pastor was thereby making a statement of not being in fellowship? One does not know why someone is not communing (unless, as in the case Jonathan mentions, they tell you), and we ought not assume that we know if we haven't been explicitly told, and we have the obligation to explain our neighbor's actions in the kindest way.

This is not intended as argument, but a genuine question: the Book of Concord and Luther's writings encourage us to be refreshed and renewed frequently by the Lord's body in our battle against our fleshly weakness. They talk about every holy day and every time it is requested. (e.g AC XXIV and LC V 24ff ) Given this encouragement, what reasons would one give for refraining from the Sacrament when offered, if not objections regarding its right administration?

In other words, I agree with your exhortation to put the best construction upon another's choice to refrain, but among fellow LCMS clergy, what construction are you suggesting?

Or maybe another way to ask the question (if it isn't an invasion of privacy): are there circumstances, unrelated to fellowship/administration, under which you would refrain from communion when it was offered to you?
I've known some older Lutherans, now deceased from old age and from the age in which every Sunday communion was not common, when attending church and not expecting communion but finding it being offered would not commune because they had not prepared themselves to commune as they were accustomed to do.


There was such a pastor in a conference where I served in my early years. He argued that the sacrament was powerful enough to last him a whole month. Offering it weekly was to reduce its power. He didn't want to do that.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12810
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2016, 04:27:25 AM »
I believe that the issue we discuss here, over and over again, never goes deep enough.
It is not: "Do I like the words of the liturgy?"
It is not: "Am I sure the pastor is 'orthodox' enough?"
It is not: "Does this congregation (and everyone in it) believe exactly the same as I believe?"
It is not: "What name is on the church sign?"
It is not: "What errors (either of the past or present) do I suspect might be lurking in this celebration?"
It is not: "Do I think - through psycho-analyzing words, vestiture, gestures or music - that there are 'motives' for this celebration that I might not like?"
No. To seek "perfection" or "perfect unity" or "doctrinal unity/purity" is fruitless and will always proclaim the divisions of humanity rather than the unity of the Church.

The issue should be:
Am I in need of what the sacrament provides?
Is Christ present in this celebration?
Does my presence and participation link me with God and the Body of Christ, the Church?
Am I witnessing to my belief in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, as it is today, not as it was in 1580 or 1850 or 1950?
Does this worshipping assembly (and I mean "this" assembly, that is, the gathering of people right there) welcome me? 

I have said it before: Were I a Christian in 1580, I might have some problems communing with Calvinists and certainly with the "papists." It is not 1580. We are not who we were then and neither is anyone else. And the proclamation of the Gospel today is clouded when we act as if those days are still upon us. That Reformation, I believe is over.

Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10350
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2016, 07:17:55 AM »
Except, Pastor Weedon, that apparently it is indeed known why certain pastors do not commune. They do not commune because they find what they consider or suspect to be a flaw in the liturgy or the celebrant or the congregation; they pass judgment on that perceived flaw; and the judgment means that they are not in good enough fellowship to receive. Or even to worship.
   My question is quite simple: So long as a pastor or congregation is in good standing with the proper ecclesial authorities, what gives people the right/privilege to pass condemnatory judgment on that pastor or congregation?

In one case where I walked out, it was a matter of a "communion liturgy" (if one could call it that) that did not even include the words of institution. I'm far from a minimalist as you can imagine, and prefer a full Eucharistic prayer, but I can respect the view of some Lutherans that nothing much beyond the Verba is needed. But when even the Verba are omitted--or anything recognizably close to the Verba--then I don't really see any need to stick around.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Weedon

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 11310
    • View Profile
    • My Blog
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2016, 07:42:12 AM »
Pastor Morris,

I was thinking of exactly what Pr. Fienen pointed out. Another example might be of someone who had just had a blowup with a spouse and they hadn't resolved it yet. They might well choose to first go and be reconciled before approaching the holy table, knowing they are harboring ill-will toward another. Or someone who had something weighing on their conscience that they wanted to make confession about and not been able to, prior to a given celebration, so they might well hold off till the confession had been made, the absolution received, and then approach the table. FWIW.
William Weedon, Assistant Pastor
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel IL
Catechist on LPR Podcast: The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
A Daily, Verse-by-Verse Bible Study with the Church, Past and Present
www.thewordendures.org

+Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum

gan ainm

  • Guest
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2016, 07:47:39 AM »
Except, Pastor Weedon, that apparently it is indeed known why certain pastors do not commune. They do not commune because they find what they consider or suspect to be a flaw in the liturgy or the celebrant or the congregation; they pass judgment on that perceived flaw; and the judgment means that they are not in good enough fellowship to receive. Or even to worship.
   My question is quite simple: So long as a pastor or congregation is in good standing with the proper ecclesial authorities, what gives people the right/privilege to pass condemnatory judgment on that pastor or congregation?

In one case where I walked out, it was a matter of a "communion liturgy" (if one could call it that) that did not even include the words of institution. I'm far from a minimalist as you can imagine, and prefer a full Eucharistic prayer, but I can respect the view of some Lutherans that nothing much beyond the Verba is needed. But when even the Verba are omitted--or anything recognizably close to the Verba--then I don't really see any need to stick around.

Interesting parallel in the Kingdom of the Left:

Dear Quote Investigator: There is a popular exhortative statement that employs the contrasting words “stand” and “fall”. Here are three versions:

(1) If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
(2) Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.
(3) When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.

This adage is attributed to Alexander Hamilton, Peter Marshall, and others. Could you explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: An interesting precursor for the saying appeared in a Methodist church announcement in an Iowa newspaper from 1926. The word order and meaning were distinct, but the keywords were the same. In 1927 the same precursor was printed as a “Sermonogram” in an Ohio newspaper:

It is easier to fall for anything than to stand for something.

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12810
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2016, 08:33:29 AM »
I don't get your point, gan.
I stand for the faith of the Church. I confess the creed.
With regard to the sacrament and the issue at hand, I said my "stand" was:
Am I in need of what the sacrament provides?
Is Christ present in this celebration?
Does my presence and participation link me with God and the Body of Christ, the Church?
Am I witnessing to my belief in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, as it is today, not as it was in 1580 or 1850 or 1950?
Does this worshipping assembly (and I mean "this" assembly, that is, the gathering of people right there) welcome me? 

I do not find the "stand" that pretends perfect doctrinal "unity" or "purity," because that does not exist. I do not think the "stand" in which one declares himself not in fellowship with other pastors, all under the same discipline, promises and ministry within the same church body is very helpful to the Body of Christ.
There are churches, to be sure, where the worship is not what I prefer and I probably would not join those churches; but if I were at one of them, I would not absent myself from the sacrament.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12073
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2016, 08:34:36 AM »
Just an observation: there is absolutely nothing that ought constrain a person to receive the Eucahrist at any given celebration. When a pastor chooses not to commune on a given day, why does that lead to folks assuming that the pastor was thereby making a statement of not being in fellowship? One does not know why someone is not communing (unless, as in the case Jonathan mentions, they tell you), and we ought not assume that we know if we haven't been explicitly told, and we have the obligation to explain our neighbor's actions in the kindest way.

This is not intended as argument, but a genuine question: the Book of Concord and Luther's writings encourage us to be refreshed and renewed frequently by the Lord's body in our battle against our fleshly weakness. They talk about every holy day and every time it is requested. (e.g AC XXIV and LC V 24ff ) Given this encouragement, what reasons would one give for refraining from the Sacrament when offered, if not objections regarding its right administration?

In other words, I agree with your exhortation to put the best construction upon another's choice to refrain, but among fellow LCMS clergy, what construction are you suggesting?

Or maybe another way to ask the question (if it isn't an invasion of privacy): are there circumstances, unrelated to fellowship/administration, under which you would refrain from communion when it was offered to you?
I've known some older Lutherans, now deceased from old age and from the age in which every Sunday communion was not common, when attending church and not expecting communion but finding it being offered would not commune because they had not prepared themselves to commune as they were accustomed to do.

That preparation in some regions included "announcing" for communion on days prior to its being offered.  We might call that private confession today, although it was less liturgically formal.  The would-be communicant walked over to church at times prescribed and visited the pastor to "announce" the intention to come to the monthly congregational Eucharist.  The pastor then could ask whatever he deemed appropriate, knowing the circumstance of the individual and his/her family.  The individual could also announce for his/her family.  Again, conversation ensued, ending with a prayer. 

That practice actually obviates against the weekly celebration of the Eucharist, because in many cases it's too cumbersome and time-consuming on a weekly basis.  With the emergence of the down-sized Lutheran congregation - 30 or 40 people - it would be possible for that small group to "announce" weekly in terms of scheduling, but it would have to be a habit regained.

Dave Benke

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12810
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2016, 08:53:06 AM »
Oh, and as long as I am climbing out on a limb, I'll say that:
I found the presence of Christ and the Body of Christ at a Maundy Thursday communion service at First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, a citadel of the Southern Baptist fundamentalist crowd. Grape juice, cubes of white bread, consumed in the pews amidst friendly people who welcomed me there.
So tell me that this was not the sacrament.
I found the presence of Christ and the Body of Christ at a German-language service in a parish church in Rome, with about 50 people - most of them German - and an elderly Italian nun who welcomed me, thinking I was one of the Germans. A sermon on God's grace, a couple of hymns that I (sort of) knew and the Roman Catholic liturgy.
So tell me that this was not the sacrament.
And w-a-a-y back I found the presence of Christ and the Body of Christ at one of those 1970s "activist" liturgies, celebrated in front of the offices of a firm making napalm and attended by a mixed collection of Catholics, Protestants, and who knows who else.
So tell me that this was not the sacrament.
Remember, I was reared under the Galesburg Rule and amidst Lutheran "superiority" and triumphalism. Had I stayed under those strictures, I would have missed much grace, inspiration, and opportunities to experience the Body of Christ.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Twice-vaccinated.

gan ainm

  • Guest
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2016, 09:09:39 AM »
I don't get your point, gan.
I stand for the faith of the Church. I confess the creed.
With regard to the sacrament and the issue at hand, I said my "stand" was:
Am I in need of what the sacrament provides?
Is Christ present in this celebration?
Does my presence and participation link me with God and the Body of Christ, the Church?
Am I witnessing to my belief in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, as it is today, not as it was in 1580 or 1850 or 1950?
Does this worshipping assembly (and I mean "this" assembly, that is, the gathering of people right there) welcome me? 

I do not find the "stand" that pretends perfect doctrinal "unity" or "purity," because that does not exist. I do not think the "stand" in which one declares himself not in fellowship with other pastors, all under the same discipline, promises and ministry within the same church body is very helpful to the Body of Christ.
There are churches, to be sure, where the worship is not what I prefer and I probably would not join those churches; but if I were at one of them, I would not absent myself from the sacrament.

My opinion:  Those who attend the Lord's Table together are not only confessing they have a common belief in the vertical realm doctrine (e.g. the means of grace, confession and absolution, the real presence) but also in the horizontal realm doctrine (e.g. the apparent beliefs of the communicants who attend a given congregation).  Thus, for example, I would not take communion in a Baptist congregation, a Methodist congregation, a United Church of Christ congregation, a Roman Catholic congregation, an Assembly of God congregation, or an ELCA congregation.  We do not believe the same things according to those denominations written documents and absense of the words of institution in many cases.  I can love the people as possible brothers in Christ when I am with them at a service but I would be dishonest with them, God, and myself if I partook of their version of communion, which in some extreme cases I've heard can be cookies and milk instead of bread and wine.  In other words, unity is far broader than just me and God.  I put the emphasis on God's Word and not so much on my thoughts or my feelings.  It is about the gift of Jesus himself, not my feelings or some spiritual pow wow.  That is what I stand for.  I hope others have similar firm beliefs they stand for and do not just commune to feel good about themselves, appear holier than thou, or participate to look good in public; I'm also not accusing you of doing any of that.


Dave Likeness

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4962
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #28 on: December 14, 2016, 09:14:35 AM »
One would have to be naive to believe that the same three  LCMS pastors avoided the Eucharist
on the second Tuesday morning of every month at the Circuit meeting because they always had
a blow-up with their wife on the second Monday of every month.  Maybe someone needs a reality
check.

Matt Staneck

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 3337
  • Shabbat Shalom! Matthew 11:28-30, 12:8
    • View Profile
Re: Ecumenical Ponderings in Forum Letter, Dec. 2016
« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2016, 09:43:28 AM »
One would have to be naive to believe that the same three  LCMS pastors avoided the Eucharist
on the second Tuesday morning of every month at the Circuit meeting because they always had
a blow-up with their wife on the second Monday of every month.  Maybe someone needs a reality
check.

Actually, I was thinking it's good that these pastors don't have blowups with their wives on their way to church on Sunday morning.

M. Staneck

Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY