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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Mass - Part 6

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1 Corinthians 11:33-34

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass

Since the Mass is a Sacrament for those present, we celebrate it each holy day, and also on other days when worshipers gather. This is not a new custom in the Church, for the Fathers before Gregory make no mention of any private Mass. Yet they speak very much of the common Mass, or the Communion. Chrysostom says that the priest stands at the altar, inviting some to the Communion and keeping back others. The ancient Canons show that one priest administered the Mass to the other priests and deacons. The Nicene Canon states, “Let the deacons after the priests, according to their order, receive the Holy Communion from the bishop or another priest.” Paul commands us concerning the Communion: “My brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.” (1Cor 11:33)

In the Mass we follow the example of the Church, taken from the Scripture and the Fathers. So we are confident that it cannot be condemned, especially since public ceremonies, for the most part are retained. Only the number of Masses has been reduced because of many serious abuses. In former times, even in those churches most frequented, the Mass was not celebrated every day. The Tripartite History (Book 9, ch 33) shows that in Alexandria, every Wednesday and Friday the Scriptures were read, and the doctors expounded upon them, and all things were done except the solemn rite of Communion.

Pulling It Together

Holy Communion is a benefit for those gathered. It is not to be served to those who are not present or to unbelievers or the dead. When the Church gathers for worship, Communion is celebrated with proper order. Communion is not a potluck that feeds the belly. It is a means of grace in which people are assured that they receive the forgiveness of sins. Lutherans follow the ancient practices of the Church, as indicated by Scripture and the early Church Fathers, so that the focus of Communion is retained on holy days. 

Prayer: Help me focus on what you have done and continue to do for me, Lord, not on what I do for you. Amen. 

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