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Edu­ca­tion

Ref­or­ma­tion His­tor­i­cal Reflec­tions: The Sacra­ment of Holy Com­mu­nion

Luther defines the Sacra­ment of the Altar in the Cat­e­chism “as the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, for us Chris­tians to eat and to drink, insti­tuted by Christ Him­self.” This the­ol­ogy comes from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and also from St. Paul: “1 Corinthi­ans 10:16 forces us to the con­clu­sion that all who break, eat and receive this bread receive the body of Christ and par­take of it.” Luther was pas­sion­ate about receiv­ing com­mu­nion, say­ing “I cer­tainly love it with all my heart, the pre­cious, blessed Sup­per of my Lord Jesus Christ, in which He gives me His body and blood to eat and to drink orally, with the mouth of my body, accom­pa­nied by the exceed­ingly sweet and gra­cious words: Given for you, Shed for you.”

The Lutheran Church — Mis­souri Synod believes that the true body and blood of Jesus Christ are present under the bread and wine for Chris­tians to eat and to drink. Our Lord Jesus Christ is present in this sacred meal and gives us the for­give­ness of sins, eter­nal life and sal­va­tion. We do not try to explain how Jesus is present under the bread and wine of the Lord’s Sup­per; rather, we believe, teach, con­fess and rejoice that He is present. As Luther says, “We main­tain that the bread and wine in the Sup­per are the true body and blood of Christ.”

We believe that Holy Com­mu­nion is a very per­sonal way God works in our lives to save us. All believ­ers are wel­come to the table, but Luther­ans “qual­ify” the unpre­pared by first teach­ing them their need for Christ and the for­give­ness and life that He gives in the Sacra­ment. Though there is no LCMS rule about how often an indi­vid­ual should or must receive the Lord’s Sup­per, we believe that we should cel­e­brate com­mu­nion often because of how much we need what the Lord gives in His Sup­per. The Synod encour­ages con­gre­ga­tions to pro­vide the oppor­tu­nity, to those who desire, to receive the Lord’s Sup­per every Lord’s Day.

This year, 2017, is a year pre­cious to all Luther­ans: the 500th anniver­sary of Luther’s blessed dis­cov­ery of the Gospel and his rebel­lion related to the beliefs and cel­e­bra­tions of the Roman Catholic Church. This arti­cle is part of a monthly series cov­er­ing top­ics and his­tor­i­cal events lead­ing up to Octo­ber 31, 1517, the date of the post­ing of the 95 The­ses on the Cas­tle Church doors in Wit­ten­berg, Ger­many. It is repub­lished, with per­mis­sion, from the Rocky Moun­tain Dis­trict, LCMS.

Ref­or­ma­tion Cel­e­bra­tion: The Lord’s Sup­per Accom­plishes Some­thing

Ref­or­ma­tion His­tor­i­cal Reflec­tions: Mar­riage and the Gospel

Mar­tin Luther was not prepar­ing for, nor antic­i­pat­ing, mar­riage, but in 1525 he was engaged to Katha­rina von Bora and, on June 13, mar­ried. Luther wrote, “Sud­denly, and while I was occu­pied with far dif­fer­ent thought, the Lord has plunged me into mar­riage.” Luther’s house­hold even­tu­ally included Katha­rina and six chil­dren, sev­eral of Katharina’s rel­a­tives and, after 1529, six of Luther’s sister’s children.

Later, as Luther expe­ri­enced mar­riage, he wrote a great deal about it.

Mar­riage is the God-​appointed and legit­i­mate union of man and woman … liv­ing to the glory of God … to obey God.

Let the wife make the hus­band glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

There is no more lovely, friendly and charm­ing rela­tion­ship, com­mu­nion or com­pany than a good marriage.

The Chris­t­ian is sup­posed to love his neigh­bor and since his wife is his near­est neigh­bor she should be his deep­est love.

The union of flesh does noth­ing. There must also be a union of the man­ners and mind.

Mar­tin quickly learned that mar­riage meant sac­ri­fice: look­ing out not only for his own needs, but also those of his wife and fam­ily. “There is a lot to get used to in the first year of mar­riage,” he wrote. “One wakes up in the morn­ing and finds a pair of pig­tails on the pil­low which were not there before.”

Luther advo­cated sev­eral impor­tant changes, includ­ing: that divorce is valid only if it meets bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples; the denounc­ing of celibacy (he blamed it for encour­ag­ing lust, and there­fore encour­aged priests to marry); the restora­tion of mar­riage and fam­ily life to that of spir­i­tu­al­ity and respectabil­ity in society.

Our Lord Jesus Christ affirmed the divine insti­tu­tion of mar­riage dur­ing his earthly min­istry (see Matthew 19:5). Out of faith­ful belief in the scrip­tures, the Lutheran Church — Mis­souri Synod teaches that God insti­tuted mar­riage and sanc­tioned it that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The great bless­ing of mar­riage from God is designed for hus­bands and wives to love, honor and serve each other, to bring forth chil­dren and to “bring them up in the dis­ci­pline and instruc­tion of the Lord.

The LCMS also teaches that divorce is con­trary to God’s orig­i­nal design and inten­tion for mar­riage. Divorce is jus­ti­fied scrip­turally in sit­u­a­tions of adul­tery or deser­tion. It is always prefer­able for cou­ples to for­give and work toward heal­ing and strength­en­ing their mar­riage. The LCMS affirms that same sex mar­riage is sin­ful behav­ior: “on the basis of Scrip­ture, mar­riage is the life­long union of one man and one woman.” Today’s cul­tural trends con­vey mes­sages that are totally con­trary to our Lord’s Word and His will for Chris­t­ian marriage.

As for­mer Syn­od­i­cal Pres­i­dent Dr. Barry said, “May God bless our fam­i­lies richly with His lov­ing mercy, strength­en­ing them as they seek to love one another and serve their Lord and Savior.”

This year, 2017, is a year pre­cious to all Luther­ans: the 500th anniver­sary of Luther’s blessed dis­cov­ery of the Gospel and his rebel­lion related to the beliefs and cel­e­bra­tions of the Roman Catholic Church. This arti­cle is part of a monthly series cov­er­ing top­ics and his­tor­i­cal events lead­ing up to Octo­ber 31, 1517, the date of the post­ing of the 95 The­ses on the Cas­tle Church doors in Wit­ten­berg, Ger­many. It is repub­lished, with per­mis­sion, from the Rocky Moun­tain Dis­trict, LCMS.

Ref­or­ma­tion Cel­e­bra­tion: Bap­tism Saves