Friday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 (NKJV)
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. 18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?
23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” 27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.”
29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
There is perhaps no better passage in all Scripture that teaches the proper understanding of Closed Communion than today’s text. Consider verses 16 and 17: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”
Holy Communion is not only a Means of Grace, delivering to us forgiveness of our sins, but is also a testimony of our fellowship with one another—a close communion. And because it is reserved for those who share this “closeness,” it is also called a closed communion, which excludes those not of our confession.
At times, people have questioned this practice. Some people consider refusing communion to a visitor from another faith similar to denying a morsel of food to a starving traveler. “Why do you Lutherans have such an exclusive practice? Who are you to judge? Isn’t my participation just a matter between God and me?”
To commune at a church’s altar is the highest expression of confessing oneness (1 Cor. 10:17). Therefore, it makes little sense for someone of another denomination to want to participate in a “communion” which, in fact, does not exist. Such a person, by his presence at the rail, is in fact renouncing the teaching of his own church by such participation. It is hypocritical, and gives offense to the Lord to pretend there is oneness when there is not, or that unity really does not matter.
Prayer: Dear Lord, may we always remember that the Supper is Yours. May we support our faithful pastors who have the privilege and responsibility to be faithful stewards of Your Word and Sacraments. Amen.