1 Corinthians 11:27–29
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
A fixed time is not prescribed because all are not ready in the same way at the same time. If everyone were to come at the same time, they could not be heard and instructed in order. The old canons and the Fathers do not appoint a fixed time. The canon speaks only thus: “If any enter the Church and are found never to commune, let them be admonished. If they do not commune, let them come to repentance. If they commune, let them not be expelled. If they fail to do so, let them be excommunicated. Paul says, “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11:29). Accordingly, our pastors do not force those who are not qualified to use the Sacraments.
Pulling It Together
Confession precedes Holy Communion. We are to earnestly confess our sins and hear the words of absolution before receiving Christ. We are also to rightly consider the Sacrament, that it is the “true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine” (Small Catechism). If we commune without doing these things, we invite judgment. Therefore, we teach people, preparing them for the feast of Christ, including confession which must attend the Supper. But we do not force people to commune if they are not ready. God’s grace is not a matter of legislation.
Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me. Amen.
In Harmony with the Word is an eight-session Bible Study that focuses on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. The study would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings or in an informal small-group setting.