Once he or she has graduated the class? Eighth grade or teenage years? Well, Martin Luther’s answer may surprise you! The Small Catechism teaches us, “That person is truly worthy and well prepared (for the Sacrament of the Altar) who has faith in these words: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’” No age or grade is even hinted at. What’s required? Only faith in the simple and clear Words of Christ, “given and shed for you.”
During the Reformation in the 16th century it was common for children of a tender young age to be receiving the Lord’s Supper in the Lutheran Churches. It was only a couple hundreds year later that the average age of first communicants was increased during the age of Rationalism.
At LMC the congregation has welcomed the opportunity for confessing young Christians to receive the gifts of Christ. The elders after careful study have discouraged the practice of requiring a certain age, grade level, or arbitrary requirement for admittance to the Lord’s Supper.
If a child has a basic understanding of the holy Christian faith, confesses the chief parts of the Catechism, and indicates a desire to receive the Lord’s Supper, there is no scriptural reasons why the gifts of Christ should be withheld from that child.
If your child is confessing the faith found in the words of the Small Catechism, and indicates a desire to receive the Sacrament of the Altar, please contact me for a visit. I can lovingly examine them in the faith, either providing additional encouragement, absolving, and if prepared an invitation to commune with Christ’s gathered guests. The Lutheran Confessions teach us “The Sacrament (Lord’s Supper) is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXIV, 249:1).
Loving and patiently pray the catechism daily with your children. Come to catechism class on Tuesday nights for instructions to be reinforced. At home show the children how precious the words of it are to you. Familiarize your child with “Christian Questions with Their Answers” on p. 329-330 in the Lutheran Service Book. With those questions they can familiarize themselves with the sorts of questions I will ask during our examination.
The Lord’s Supper is for those who confess their sins in repentant faith and believe in Christ and the words of the New Testament: “This is my body, which is given for you…this cup is the new testament in My blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” It’s simple really.
Lord God, heavenly Father, in Holy Baptism You began Your good work in our catechumens, and You have blessed their instruction and training in Your Word. We implore You to pour out Your Holy Spirit on their hearts and minds so that they will truly love and revere You, confess the faith with joy and boldness, endeavor to live according to Your commandments, and praise and glorify You as their Faith God and Lord, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
O Lord Jesus Christ, true King of heaven and earth, you promised to Your Chruch that the gates of hell would not prevail against her, and you still cause Your Word to be preached and Your Holy Sacraments to be administered among us. But ah! O Lord, the sins of Your people obscure the majesty of Your Bride. Your holy vineyard is trampled and your blessed sacrifice stands neglected. Many think themselves strong and despise the life-giving food that You have ordained for your people, for the forgiveness of their sins.
Pardon all our arrogance and do not come to us in wrath to remove the lamp of Your Word from before our eyes! O Lord, we pray You: visit this vine, which You once established for Yourself, and renew us with the sun of Your mercy and the water of eternal life.
Give us a great hunger for the food of your true body and blood, and let all Your faithful people ever be found in the apostles' doctrine, in the fellowship, in the breaking of Your bread, and in the prayers.
We implore You, O Lord for our altar, that it may ever be a place where the medicine of eternal life, the forgivness of our sins, strengthens us in body and soul; that disbelief and impenitnece may stay far from all who come there so that they may not eat and drink to their own judgment.
O Eternal High Priest, let the fruit of Your Spirit grow in us, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and chasitity. Cause us to live in holy conduct toward one another to the glory of Your holy name, here in time and hereafter in eternity; for You live and reign with the Father and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
From "Treasury of Daily Prayer" - p. 1308
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, "The greatest of these is love."...Paul, in this passage, properly speaks about the love toward one's neighbor and indicates that love is the greatest, because it has the most fruit. Faith and hope have to do only with God. But love has infinite offices outwardly toward humanity. Indeed, let us grant to the adversaries that love toward God and our neighbor is the greatest virtue, because the chief commandment is this: "You shall love the Lord your God" (Matthew 22:37). But how will they conclude from this that love justifes? They say, "The greatest virtue justifies." By no means! For just as the greatest or first, Law does not justify, so also the Law's greatest virtue does not justify. But the virtue that justifies recieves Christ, which brings to us Christ's merits, by which we recieve grace and peace from God. This virtue is faith. As it has often been said, faith is not just knowledge. But it is willing to receive or take hold of those things that are offered in the promise about Christ. Furthermore, this obedience toward God (i.e., to want to receive the offered promise) is no less a divine service (latreia) than is love. God wants us to believe Him and to receive from Him blessings. He delcares this to be true divine service.
Apology of the Augsburg Confession V (III) 104-107 (225-228).
V. 12 – Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Our Lutheran Confessions reference only this one verse from Psalm 19 and it they reference six times! In the Articles on Confession in the Augsburg Confession and Apology it is stated that private Absolution should be retained in our churches but that consciences should not be burdened with worry about naming every sin. For it is impossible to recount all sins as Psalm 19:12 testifies (AC XXV – Confession). (Apology XI – Confession) It is clear that most sins we neither remember nor understand, according to Psalm 19:12, “Who can discern his errors?”
The Smalcald Articles – ART VII – states that The Keys – (forgiving sins and retaining sins) applies not only to gross and well-known sins, but also the subtle, hidden sins that are known only to God. As it is written, “Who can discern his errors?” FOC – ART I – says of Original Sin that the damage cannot be fully described (Psalm 19:12) It cannot be understood by reason, but only from God’s Word. We affirm that no one but God alone can separate human nature and this corruption of human nature from each other. This will fully come to pass through death, in the blessed resurrection – p. 475). FOC – SD – ART I – p. 512)
WHAT WE DON’T RECOGNIZE AND KNOW IN OUR REBELLION AGAINST GOD AND OUR MISSING THE MARK OF HIS HOLY WILL – GOD KNOWS – AND TAKES ACTION TO FORGIVE IN CHRIST! HIS BLOOD CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN – EVEN THE BOATLOAD OF SINS THAT WE DO NOT REMEMBER OR UNDERSTAND! SWEETER THAN HONEY IS THAT MERCY! MORE TO BE DESIRED THAN FINE GOLD IS THAT GRACE POURED UPON US IN THE WORD MADE FLESH!
A narrow definiton will identify Protestants as those German princes who protested the Edict of the Diet of Speyer in 1529. By that edict, the Catholic majority of princes had sought to crush the reform movement by taking away from other princes the right to determine the religion in their regions. The evangelical princes protested and sought a unified political front against the Roman Catholic princes.
In the political sense, Lutheran princes were among those first Protestants. In the religious sense, however, Luther and his followers soon distinguished their confession from Zwingli, Calvin, and others chiefly over the Lord's Supper.
Thus, while dictionaries lump together all who sought to address the abuses of Rome as "Protestant," it is important to distinguish the political realities from the theological realities. If Protestant means all those denominations that teach a figurative or spiritual or symbolic view of the real presence, Lutherans are not Protestants.
"The Blessings of Weekly Communion" - CPH - pp. 174-175