The Eucharist in the Lutheran Church (also called the Mass, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Table, Holy Communion, the Breaking of the Bread and the Blessed Sacrament[1][2]) refers to the liturgical commemoration of the Last Supper -- which is the life and heart of The Church.

Biblical basis Edit

Martin Luther (like many) saw the main basis for the Eucharist (as well as the Real Presence) to be found in Matthew 26:26–28, Mark 14:22–24,Luke 22:19-20, and 1 Corinthians 11:23-29.[3]

Beliefs Edit

Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms" of consecrated bread and wine (the elements),[4] so that communicants eat and drink both the elements and the true Body and Blood of Christ himself[5] in the Sacrament of the Eucharist whether they are believers or unbelievers.[6][7] The Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence is also known as the sacramental union.[8][9] This theology was first formally and publicly confessed in the Wittenberg Concord (1536).[10] It has also been called "consubstantiation" but most Lutheran theologians reject the use of this term as it creates confusion with an earlier doctrine of the same name.[11] Lutherans use the term "in, with and under the forms of consecrated bread and wine" and "sacramental union" to distinguish their understanding of the Eucharist from those of the Reformed and other traditions.[4] "In, with and under" does not denote: "containing" His physical substance -- but rather is shorthand for saying "is", His physical substance (without need for philosophical explanation).

Use of the sacrament Edit

For Lutherans the Eucharist is not considered to be a valid sacrament unless the elements are used according to Christ's mandate and institution (consecration, distribution, and reception).[4] This was first formulated in the Wittenberg Concord of 1536 in the formula: Nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum a Christo institutum ("Nothing has the character of a sacrament apart from the use instituted by Christ").[13] To remove any scruple of doubt or superstition, the reliquiæ traditionally are either consumed, poured into the earth, or reserved (see below). In most Lutheran congregations, the administration of private communion of the sick and "shut-in" (those too feeble to attend services) involves a completely separate service of the Eucharist for which the sacramental elements are consecrated by the celebrant.[14]

Today, many Lutheran churches offer the Eucharist weekly, while others offer it less often. Weddings and funerals sometimes include the celebration of the Eucharist in Lutheran churches. At the ordinations of pastors/priests and the consecration of bishops, the Eucharist is always offered.

Practices in American Lutheran churches Edit

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and its congregations practice open communion—meaning that Holy Communion is offered to all baptized Christians who have confessed their sins and received absolution.[15] Congregations in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod practice close communion, meaning that Lutheran Eucharistic catechetical instruction is required for all people before receiving the Eucharist, though some congregations in these synods simply either ask that one speak to the pastor before the service to confirm their common faith or acknowledge this on their attendance card. For Lutherans in general, confession and absolution are considered proper preparation for receiving the sacrament. However, the historic practice among Lutherans of preparation by private confession and absolution[16] is rarely found in American Lutheran congregations.[15][17] For this reason, often a brief order or corporate rite of confession and absolution is included at the beginning of Lutheran liturgies.

A growing number of congregations in the ELCA, offer instruction to baptized children generally between the ages of 6-8 and, after a relatively short period of catechetical instruction, the children are admitted to partake of the Eucharist.[15] Most other ELCA congregations offer First Communioninstruction to children in the 5th grade. In other Lutheran churches, the person must have receive confirmation before receiving the Eucharist.[15][18]Infants and children who haven't received the catechetical instruction (or confirmation) may be brought to the Eucharistic distribution by their parents to be blessed by the pastor.[19]

Manner of reception Edit

The manner of receiving the Eucharist differs throughout the world. In most American Lutheran churches, an older Latin Rite custom is maintained, where a cushioned area and altar rails sit at the front of the altar where the congregation can come to kneel down and receive the sacrament (as seen in the picture below). Traditionally, only those within the holy office of the ministry distributed both of the communion elements, but it is now the prevailing practice that the Pastor distributes the host and an assistant then distributes the wine. The congregation departs and may make the sign of the cross.

In other Lutheran churches, the process is much like the Post-Vatican II revised rite of the Roman Catholic Church.[20] The eucharistic minister (most commonly the pastor) and his assistants line up, with the eucharistic minister in the center holding the hosts and the two assistants on either side holding the chalices. The people process to the front in lines and receive the Eucharist standing. Following this, the people make the sign of the cross (if they choose to) and return to their places in the congregation.

The bread is commonly a thin unleavened wafer, but leavened wafers may also be used. Some parishes useintinction, the dipping of the host into the chalice.[21] Placing the host in the hand of the communicant is commonly practiced, but some people may prefer that the pastor place the host into their mouth in the pre-Vatican II Catholic tradition. The wine is commonly administered via a chalice, but many congregations use individual cups.[22] These may be either prefilled or filled from the chalice during the distribution of the Eucharist. Some ELCA congregations make grape juice available for children and those who are abstaining from alcohol and some will accommodate those with an allergy to wheat or grapes.[23]

Adoration and the Corpus Christi Edit

Lutheran Eucharistic adoration is not commonly practiced, but when it occurs it is done only from the moment of consecration to reception. Many people kneel when they practice this adoration.[24] The consecrated elements are treated with as much respect and in many areas are reserved as in Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican practice.[25] The Feast of the Corpus Christi was retained in the main calendar of the Lutheran Church up until about 1600,[26] but continues to be celebrated by many Lutheran congregations.[27] On this feast day the consecrated host is displayed on an altar in a monstrance and, in some churches, the rites of the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and other forms of adoration are celebrated.[28]

Liturgy Edit

The Lutheran worship liturgy is called the "Divine Service", "Holy Communion",or "the Eucharist." An example formula for the Lutheran liturgy is as follows:[29]

The "Great Thanksgiving" or Sursum corda is chanted or spoken.

Next, the proper preface is chanted or spoken by the pastor. Below is an example:

This is followed by the Sanctus, which is sung by the congregation.

Next, the first part of the Eucharistic Prayer is spoken by the pastor.

The pastor then says the Words of Institution. The pastor may also elevate the elements as well as genuflect.

The Eucharistic Prayer continues, along with the Memorial Acclamation.

The Lord's Prayer

The "Peace" or "pax"

Following this, the Agnus Dei is chanted.

The Distribution is next (see above for different manners), it is followed by the nunc dimittis, which is chanted as follows:

The postcommunion is prayed by the pastor.

Finally the Benedicamus Domino and benediction are spoken or chanted by the pastor and congregation with the Sign of the Cross being made at the end.

Pastor: The Lord be with you.

People: And with your spirit.

Pastor: Let us bless the Lord.

People: Thanks be to God.

Pastor: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace.

References Edit

  1. Jump up^ An Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism, (LCMS), question 285")
  2. Jump up^ Lutheran Eucharist names. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
  3. Jump up^ see the "Book of Concord"
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c An Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism, (LCMS), question 291)
  5. Jump up^ (cf. Augsburg Confession, Article 10)
  6. Jump up^ ("manducatio indignorum": "eating of the unworthy")
  7. Jump up^ An Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism, (LCMS), question 296")
  8. Jump up^ Formula of Concord Solid Declaration VII.36-38 (Triglot Concordia, 983, 985 [1]; Theodore G. Tappert, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 575-576.
  9. Jump up^ Weimar Ausgabe 26, 442; Luther's Works 37, 299-300.
  10. Jump up^ Formula of Concord Epitiome VII, 7, 15; FC Formula of Concord Solid Declaration VII, 14, 18, 35, 38, 117; Triglot Concordia, 811-813, 977, 979, 983-985, 1013.
  11. Jump up^ F.L. Cross, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, second edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 340 sub loco.
  12. Jump up^ J.T. Mueller, , (St. Louis: CPH, 1934), 519; cf. also Erwin L. Lueker, , (St. Louis: CPH, 1975), under the entry "consubstantiation".
  13. Jump up^ Lutheran Theology Retrieved on 2009-08-19
  14. Jump up^ [2] at Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  15. ^ Jump up to:a b c d At what age do ELCA congregations allow members their first Communion?. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
  16. Jump up^ Confession in the churches is not abolished among us; for it is not usual to give the body of the Lord, except to them that have been previously examined and absolved.
  17. Jump up^ "Close(d) Communion" @
  18. Jump up^ LCMS Youth Confirmation & First Communion. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  19. Jump up^ First Lutheran Church Communion FAQs. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  20. Jump up^ Catholic Communion process from the Mass
  21. Jump up^ Intinction at the Christian Encyclopedia
  22. Jump up^ Virus and the Common Cup from Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  23. Jump up^ An example of a church that does. See the "Sunday Worship" section on the "Welcome" page.
  24. Jump up^ Also see the images in this article.
  25. Jump up^ Shjould Lutherans reserve the sacrament? from Concordia Theological Seminary in April 2003. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
  26. Jump up^ Frank Senn: Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical, Fortress Press, 1997. p. 344. ISBN 0-8006-2726-1
  27. Jump up^ Lutheran Corups Christi. Retrieved 2010-04-16.
  28. Jump up^
  29. Jump up^ (Lutheran Service Book, Divine Service I,IIILutheran Service Book)