Using video to consecrate Communion elements for home groups cannot be condoned or encouraged, according to the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR). Approved during the commission’s Feb. 16-18 meeting in St. Louis, the opinion responded to a district president’s question about the practice.
A congregation prepared leaders of some 50 small groups to observe Maundy Thursday in homes, giving them an order of service, wine and hosts, and a DVD (digital video disk). The intent was to give participants a sense of the dynamics present in the Upper Room where Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. At a given time, each group leader played the DVD, which showed the pastor consecrating the elements. Then the leader distributed the elements.
The CTCR said its unanimous opinion was not intended to pass judgment on the motives of those involved. Observing that the Sacrament does not depend on human attempts to recapture the original event, the commission cited its 1983 report, “Theology and Practice of the Lord’s Supper,” saying the blessings of the Lord’s Supper depend only on Christ’s divine word and promise, “Take and eat; this is My body.”
The commission added, “The church’s primary concern is ‘rightly to follow the Savior’s guidance’ in its use and celebration of this great gift.”
The commission said pastors speak the words of institution in the presence [CTCR emphasis] of the assembled congregation to give assurance that the church is faithfully following Christ’s own example and instructions in instituting His supper, thereby also giving assurance that the body and blood of Christ are actually being given and received for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith. It also said that it is by Christ’s Word and its power — not the mere “sound” or “recording” of a pastor’s voice — that His body and blood are present in the bread and wine when used in accordance with Christ’s Word and will.
Finally, quoting its previous report, the CTCR said, “To … insert some personal idiosyncrasy into the consecration is to detract the people’s attention from the Sacrament. The congregation’s focus is to be on Christ’s word and invitation.”
The CTCR also approved a grant application for two consultations on the relationships of men and women to guide completion of a 1995 convention request to “coordinate a comprehensive study of the scriptural relationship of man and woman, together with the faculties of both seminaries, making use of other persons who are competent in the area of theology, including women.”
The commission is proposing two consultations, involving 12 to 15 people — including parish pastors, commissioned ministers, and women who serve in and outside the home — plus CTCR members and staff. During the past 11 years, the commission has completed other assignments related to the study, including a report or opinions on inclusive language, lay teachers of theology, women in combat, service of women, and response to the meaning of the Greek word authentein (to exercise authority over).
The CTCR informed LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick that a fellowship agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark and three small Scandinavian church bodies stands in agreement with the LCMS understanding of the teachings of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.
The Danish church body, which is in fellowship with the LCMS, asked for comment on documents declaring altar and pulpit fellowship with the Evangelical — Lutheran Confessional Church in Sweden/ Norway (ELBK), the Lutheran Congregation in the Stockholm and Umeaa area of Sweden (LFS and LFU) and the Confessional Lutheran Church of Finland.
“We are grateful to the Danish church body for requesting our input,” said Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger, executive director of the CTCR. “We always rejoice when brothers and sisters in Christ come to agreement.”
The Commission reviewed a final report on the second model theological conference held Aug. 23-25 in Scottsdale, Ariz., on the topic of “The Congregation’s Ministry and Mission: Who’s in Charge Here?” With “five” being the highest rating, the conference received eight five-point ratings, 22 four-point ratings, and six three-point ratings from district presidents and CTCR members. Thirty-four of 35 LCMS districts have indicated their intent to hold similar conferences later this year or in early 2007.
Posted Feb. 23, 2006