Finding the Holy Grail?

Some historians, on the basis of manuscript and carbon-dating evidence, claim to have identified a particular chalice as the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.  The gold and jewel-encrusted vessel is built around a more humble cup that has been traced to the Middle East in the years between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D.

If the Grail has been recovered, according to legend, the spiritual wasteland of our age will come back to life.  But I say that if you want a cup that holds Christ’s blood and that will bring life in the spiritual wasteland, all you have to do is go to a church that offers the Sacrament of the Altar and you will find it.

See a picture of the alleged Grail and sample two news stories about it after the jump. [Read more...]

From eucharistic hymn to Christmas carol

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence” is a hymn about Holy Communion.  But now it keeps showing up as a Christmas carol!  That’s how it’s presented in Christmas concerts, holiday recordings, and on many of the renditions on Youtube.  But it is “an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion.”

I can see how it would shift over to the Christmas canon.  It has a beautiful, otherworldly melody of the same sort associated with Christmas music.  It talks about how “Christ our God to earth descendeth” and that He was “born of Mary.”  But the point is that “He will give to all the faithful/His own self for heavenly food,” “in the body and the blood.”

But this is quite fitting to associate Holy Communion with Christmas and vice versa.  What other Communion hymns could work as Christmas hymns?  What other Christmas songs could work as Communion songs?

[Read more...]

80 lashes for receiving Communion

Aspects of our faith that are so commonplace that we often take them for granted are serious crimes in other countries, bringing horrible punishments.  Yesterday we blogged about North Korea executing people for simply possessing a Bible.  In Iran, since Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, if you are a Muslim convert, receiving Christ’s blood in the wine of Holy Communion is punishable by 80 lashes.  Evangelism–that is, the crime of spreading Christianity–can mean 3 years and 8 months in prison.  Would we pay prices like that for our Bibles, for Holy Communion, for witnessing to our faith? [Read more...]

Allowing divorced Catholics to take Communion?

Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic hierarchy are reportedly re-considering the practice of denying Communion to Catholics who have  divorced and remarried.

Details after the jump.  Notice in the church debates over the issue how we can see Rome’s teaching that the Sacrament is for those who are holy, rather than for those who need the forgiveness of sins.  We also see Rome’s opposition to divorce, while still allowing divorce-like annulments. [Read more...]

Holy Communion, Culture, & Vocation

We often talk about how God works through material elements in the sacraments to convey His grace in Christ.  But I came across a quotation that adds a dimension I never thought of before.  The water of Baptism is certainly a natural substance, but the bread and wine of Holy Communion do not occur from nature alone.  As James K. A. Smith points out, they require culture.  And I would add, they require vocation.  [Read more...]

On denying the sacrament for “political” reasons

Confessional Lutherans get excoriated for not admitting members of other churches to the Lord’s Supper, though I don’t hear many people complaining when that happens in Catholic or Orthodox churches, which likewise practiced “close communion.” Some Catholics are taking this to another level by refusing to commune politicians who favor abortion.  Some are considering refusing to commune regular laypeople who disagree with the church’s other moral teachings.  Is that a possibility for Lutheran parishes, or does our different understanding of the Lord’s Supper and church discipline preclude that? [Read more...]


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