Communion--both "close" and "closed"

We would prefer that what is emphasized about our communion practice is its "closeness." It is true, however, that our communion is also "closed." Paul said, "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself." Any practice of communion, which aims to be "close", must of necessity also be "closed." It must be closed to children too young to examine themselves. It must be closed to those who have not yet been taught the Savior's gospel and to those who do not yet recognize the Savior's body. It must be closed to those no longer able to examine themselves. It must be closed to those who are plainly impenitent.

And because receiving communion is a way of expressing fellowship, it must be closed where fellowship does not exist.

Close communion is also closed communion. The Wisconsin Synod practices both.

Mark Braun is pastor of St. John, Sparta, Wisconsin.