At last evening's meeting of the LCM Directing Committee, we digressed into a discussion of the practice of some denominations (such as Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) to require persons to register for communion. While not firmly enforced by all congregations, the LC-MS does have "Close Communion." This is the church's way of making sure that they abide by the instructions of Paul in I Corinthians 11:29: "For all who eat and drink without discerning the Lord's body, eat and drink judgement against themselves." What congregation would want to enable such an injury to another?!?! So, they have close communion - your appreciation of the sacrament must be close to the teaching of the Church, or we will protect you from potential judgement. The only way we can be assured you are close is if you have received instruction in one of our congregations. The limits on communion may be interpreted by some as a limitation - but its roots are in a deep pastoral concern, and in the scriptures.
Meister Eckhart's words also came up this morning. (Those visiting Germany next week will visit the church where he lived and taught.) He writes that while we should not wait until we have an "upsurge of emotion or devotion" to seek Holy Communion, we ought to be rightly prepared. There are three steps: 1) conscience is without reproach, 2) readiness to take pleasure in nothing but God, and 3) that each communion result in a grown in ones affection for our Lord.
Communion practice is continually debated and discussed among us as followers of Jesus. And, there is rhyme and reason for each congregation's choices and practices. Each are logical and methodical. We do well to think charitably of the practices of others - as we ask them to do the same about ours.