Some good advice from Pastor Klement Preus

Since it has become a topic of discussion at Messiah, I thought I’d share some of  Pastor Preus’s thoughts from his essay which explains his personal “journey” regarding the practice of having communion every Sunday.

It seems to me that Luther’s wise counsel would apply to us in a couple of ways. First, even a necessary change should never be imposed upon people against their will. Rather the Word changes people’s hearts. Then the change is made. Second, people accept change at different rates. It is wrong to force people to accept change before they are ready. People should not feel forced to do anything they do not want. Even taking the Lord’s supper, saving as it is, should never be forced upon people. Third, people should be allowed to receive the Lord’s Supper each Sunday just as people at Luther’s time were allowed to receive both kinds in the Sacrament. Eventually all the Lutherans began to receive the Sacrament in both kinds. But it took time. I am convinced that eventually the Lutheran churches will all offer the Sacrament at all their Sunday services. But it will take time. No one should feel forced. No one should treat a gift like a duty. Everyone should be free to change at the rate at which they feel comfortable.

One of the occupational hazards of being a minister of the Gospel is to expect things of people that you yourself never did. I took me a year to really be convinced that the Sacrament belongs in every Sunday service. Yet I often feel impatient when others don’t make the adjustment in a couple of weeks. Luther constantly reminds me that I need to give others the same chance that I was able to have.

God’s people are justifiably very cautious about any change. Pastors are justifiable jealous to give to the people as much of God’s blessings as they possibly can. Often people stubbornly refuse to be taught by their pastors.  And often pastors have been insensitive if well intended. Pastors are called to teach and the people are called by God to learn from their divinely appointed pastors. But, unfortunately many in our churches have been hurt by change and have often felt as if change were imposed upon them. All should feel comfortable with even the best changes. Pastors are given the freedom and challenge to balance the responsibility of ministry with the needs of the people. That is why no pastor should ever promote programs where he is the beneficiary. Weekly communion is a practice it which all of God’s people benefit eternally. When God’s grace is promoted and served and people receive it  in faith then the church is blessed.

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I could not agree with him more… on all counts (even my inclination to be impatient).  We’re in this together as a congregation.

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