The Lutheran Education Association (LEA), the Lutheran teachers of the
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, held their Convention on April 18-20, 2002 in
Minneapolis, Minnesota. There were more than 4000 teachers in attendance. The
LEA Convention opened with a Communion service.
During the service, the teachers remained seated at round tables, each
accommodating ten people. At each table there was one goblet of wine and a
small plate with ten Communion wafers. After the pastor on the stage
consecrated his own bread and wine, the teachers were instructed to serve each
other the bread and wine at their own tables with the words, "The Body of
Christ for you," "The Blood of Christ for you."
According to the texts of the Bible and standard Lutheran practice, the
teachers did not receive the Lord's Supper, because the elements at their
tables were not consecrated.
Must the Words of Institution be spoken over the bread and wine? Christ's
words of institution clearly state: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same
night on which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He
brake it and gave it to His disciples saying, 'Take, eat; this is my body,
which is given for you. . . .'"
"After the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped, and
when He had given thanks, He gave it to them saying, 'Drink ye all of it; this
cup is the New Testament in My blood . . .'"
"Nothing has the nature of a sacrament apart from the use instituted
by Christ" (Lutheran Confessions, Formula of Concord, Article VII, par.
85). The LEA Communion did not follow Christ's institution. Christ took the
bread in His hand, and blessed it and distributed it. He did not bless all the
bread in front of each disciple. He did not distribute the bread that was in
front of each disciple. Christ took the cup, not the cup in front of each
disciple, blessed it, and gave it to them.
Christ did not practice long distance consecration. He did not consecrate
all the bread and wine in the room, only the bread and wine He took, blessed,
and distributed. At the LEA convention, the pastor only took and blessed his
own bread and wine. This is not the Lord's Supper.
Walther writes, "If the Words of Institution are not at all spoken
OVER the elements, so the elements are not blessed or consecrated, one is not
doing what Christ commanded. So He does not fulfill there what He promised;
one is not celebrating the meal instituted by Christ; Christ's body and blood
are not present; and nothing is distributed and received except bread and
wine." (Pastoral Theology, Walther, CN 1995 page 133)
There is a question of proximity. How far away from the elements can the
Words of Institution be spoken? If a pastor speaks the Words of Institution in
a neighboring congregation at the same time another congregation five miles
away is celebrating the Lord's Supper (whose pastor does not speak the Words
of Institution), does the real presence of Christ's body and blood take place
in the neighboring congregation?
Can the pastor speak the Words of Institution while he is sick in bed in
the parsonage and at the same time consecrate the elements on the altar in the
Walther says the words are to be "spoken over the elements" or
there is no consecration and no forgiveness of sins. Over means
"over," and not "over there" or "anywhere else."
"This is my Body" does not mean, "That bread over there is My
Walther endorses the following method of consecration: "When the words
are spoken, 'He took the bread,' the preacher lays his hands on the plate of
wafers and lets it rest there until the words come, 'This is my body,' when he
makes the sign of the cross over bread. When later the words are spoken, 'He
took the cup,' he touches the cup with his hand and lets his hand rest there
until the words come, 'This is my blood,' when the sign of the cross is made
again over the cup.'"
"If there are so many communicants that not all the necessary wafers
can be laid on the paten, and not all the wine can be poured into the cup, the
rest should be put into a wafer box and a wine flask, suitable for churchly
use, made of metal if possible, both of which are to be opened before the
consecration, which are to be placed right there, and over which the sign of
the cross is to be made at the appropriated time, to indicate that also this
part of the elements belongs to what is being set aside [for sacramental
use]." (Pastoral Theology, Walther, CN 1995 page 141)
The teachers did not come forward to take Communion, as is required
practice in the LCMS. Coming forward identifies the communicant as making a
public confession of agreement with the doctrine and practice of the Lord's
Supper; it is a sign of public repentance; it also allows the pastor to
exercise the authority of his office as to who should and who should not take
Communion. Instead, the LEA followed the Baptist practice of everyone
remaining in their seats while they took Communion.
In the LCMS we do not place the bread and wine in the hands of Communicants
who are sitting in the pews while the pastor consecrates all the elements from
the chancel. This is an abomination.
Most of the teachers are women. The women served Communion to each other
and the men teachers. Women are not supposed to serve men Communion in the
Luther states: "Not that it matters to God whether one stands here or
there, nor that it adds something to faith, but it is necessary for this
reason that the person may be seen and recognized by those who receive the
Sacrament as well as by those who do not go, so that afterwards there lives
may be that much more seen proved, and revealed. For the reception of this
Sacrament in the congregation is a part of the Christian confession so that
those who go to it confess before God, angels, and people that they are
Christians. For that reason it is to be diligently observed that none sneak
secretly to the Sacrament and afterwards, mixed among other Christians, cannot
be seen whether they live well or wickedly." (Pastoral Theology, Walther,
CN 1995 page 143)
The LEA practiced open Communion. These are the words published in the
worship folder for the service: "We believe, teach, and confess, that in
the Lord's Supper, Christ comes to us with His real presence to forgive ours
sins and to assure us of everlasting life and salvation. We prepare for
Communion by examining ourselves, repenting of our sins, and anticipating our
Lord's forgiveness. To those who share this confession with us we say, welcome
to the Lord's Table."
There was no requirement of membership in the LCMS in order to receive
Communion at the LEA Convention. Not all Lutheran teachers are members of the
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. There is such a great teacher shortage that
many of the teachers are from different denominations. Yet, anyone could buy a
ticket to the Convention and anyone could take Communion. Some teachers
brought their spouses, not all of whom are members of the LCMS.
The service also lacked the required confession and absolution in a
Lutheran Communion Service.
Clearly, novelty has become more important at the LEA Communion Service
than orthodoxy. Was there any concern on the part of the Minnesota South
District President that 4000 plus LCMS teachers were given an invalid,
meaningless, empty Communion? How many of the teachers are concerned about
this fiasco masquerading as divine worship? How many were even aware that they
did not receive Communion?
The love of novelty over truth will inevitably make the LCMS as meaningless
as the Communion served at the LEA Convention.
On April 18, 2002, President Jerry Kieschnick sent a "Housing
Allowance - Call to Action" to all LCMS Ordained and Commissioned
Ministers of the Gospel. The U. S. Senate may revoke our housing allowance.
This gets more priority than 4000 LCMS teachers being served phony Communion
or Dr. Waldo Werning distributing false doctrine about the Trinity to every
2001 Convention delegate.
The statistical decline of the LCMS is following the decline in its concern
for true doctrine and practice. When anything goes its because nothing
matters, just don't cut the clergy's housing allowance.
The LEA is under the direction of Executive Director Jonathan Laabs.
Lutheran Education Assoc.
7400 St. Augusta Street
River Forest IL 60305-1499