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2381: Our Savior, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, USA

Read this report | Other comments

21 May 2012

I thought that the Mystery Worshipper was a bit harsh in her comments on Our Saviour. Clearly from the opening paragraphs she received a warm welcome from members of the congregation, the vicar and vacancy pastor. The negative comments seem to stem from the well know (traditional Lutheran) practice of "close" communion observed within the LCMS (and WELS plus other synods).

Amanda was invited to read the sections entitled "The Office of the Keys and Confession" and "The Sacrament of the Altar" in the Small Catechism, which is conveniently included in the Lutheran Service Book, before deigning to approach the communion rail. Strictly speaking, in an LCMS Church she ought to have been invited to speak to the pastor or elder before the service concerning the LCMS belief in the Real Presence. LCMS Christians take St Paul’s admonishment in his letter to the Corinthians (Chapter 11) regarding unworthy reception of the sacrament very seriously and, as such, expect communicants to have been sufficiently catechised and prepared to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in accordance with the teachings of the Apostles.

Whilst it is open to Christians to hold different views on how to implement scriptural teachings I am surprised that the Mystery Worshipper didn’t endeavour to respect and learn about the reasons for LCMS communion practice. What I find difficult to understand is why, if the Mystery Worshipper found herself in disagreement with Luther’s Small Catechism on these points, would she want to take communion in a church with which she didn’t share a common understanding of the meaning of the sacrament?

When visiting a church of another denomination, would it not be better to seek to find out what they believe, teach and confess before condemning as "dour and cold?"

From Amanda’s account, this is clearly a vibrant congregation who, despite a pastoral interregnum, have only a couple of empty places in the pews on the seventh Sunday of Easter – clearly not to her liking but surely worthy of respect and charity?

Richard S.

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