The Augsburg Confession (1530), the principal historical statement of Lutheran belief, states that "The church is the assembly of saints in which the Gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly." (Article VII). Strengthened and encouraged by the presence of the Risen Christ in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, we are sent by the Spirit into the world to serve others and be witnesses of God's love.
At St. John's Latvian Lutheran Church, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is celebrated regularly on the first Sunday of each month and on the major feast days of the liturgical year.
We are committed to eucharistic hospitality. Baptized persons of Lutheran and other Christian faith communities who believe that the Risen Lord is present in this sacrament are welcomed to share the bread and wine of Holy Comunion.
We provide Holy Communion for those persons who, for reasons of illness or confinement, are unable to worship. As an extension of the congregation's celebration of the Eucharist, trained and designated lay members may distribute Holy Communion following the worship service. At other times, our pastors may celebrate the sacrament with those unable to participate in our regular worship. Please contact our pastoral staff or church office for further information.
Baptized children who understand the meaning of the sacrament may receive Holy Communion. This is generally done after a period of instruction and preparation under the supervision of the pastor, parents and religious education teachers. Please contact the Minister of the Congregation, Rev. Dr. Fritz Traugottt Kristbergs for complete information.
The theological foundations and practical principles of The Sacrament of Holy Communion in the Lutheran tradition are outlined in the following "Statement on Sacramental Practices" of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The Theological Foundations of Holy Communion
1. The Lord's Supper was instituted by Jesus Christ himself (1 Cor. 11:23-25; Matt. 26:26-28).
2. In Holy Communion the crucified and risen Christ is present in word and action. This presence is a mystery.
3. Holy Communion is a means of grace through which the crucified and risen Christ awakens faith, saves, forgives, unites, gives life, comforts and strengthens God's people for the work to which they are called in the world.
4. Holy Communion is also a great and joyous thanksgiving (Eucharist - Greek for thanksgiving) for everything accomplished by God in creation, redemption and sanctification. In the Eucharist, God's people give thanks for all of God's blessings.
5. Eucharistic celebrations incorporate the whole Christian church in every time and place. The whole church is involved in each local eucharistic celebration (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
6. In the Lord's Supper, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we remember and experience anew the creative and redemptive acts of God, receive the gift of the presence of Christ, and look forward in anticipation to our future with God.
7. Participation in the Lord's Supper empowers and compels us to imitate the example of our Lord who is both host and servant and to embody and reflect the unity which the Lord's Supper symbolizes. (Lk. 22:24-27; Jn. 13:1-20; 1 Cor. 10:17.)
8. In Baptism we are incorporated into the body of Christ, the church. In Holy Communion the church is nourished and strengthened. Therefore we speak of and practice communion of the baptized.
The Practical Principles of Holy Communion
1. In the Eucharist, Christ gathers, teaches and nourishes the people of God. It is these gathered people of God who celebrate the Eucharist.
2. In accordance with traditional church practice and the Lutheran Confessions, an ordained minister, as one whose ministry originates within and is affirmed by the whole church, presides over the eucharistic celebration. Only one ordained minister presides.
3. Persons not ordained may be authorized by the synodical bishop to preside at the Lord's Supper in those situations where an ordained minister is not available for an extended period of time. Such exemptions are allowed for only a specific time, place, and person.
4. Our liturgical practice embodies the priesthood of all believers; therefore, properly trained lay persons serve in a variety of roles including the distribution of the elements.
5. As a participant in the worshipping community and as a symbol of the unity of the church, the presiding minister communes at each Eucharist. Such communion may be served by an assisting minister or be self-administered.
6. The Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness may be used before the Eucharist. Opportunities for corporate and private confession and forgiveness preceding the Eucharist are especially appropriate during penitential seasons of the Church Year.
7. Holy Communion has two principal parts: the proclamation of the Word and the sharing of the sacramental meal. Surrounded by prayer, praise and thanksgiving, these two parts are so intimately connected as to form one unified act of worship.
8. According to the Lutheran Confessions, Holy Communion is offered every Sunday.
9. The Lord's Supper is God's meal for the baptized. Admission to the Supper is by Christ's invitation, offered through the church to the baptized.
10. As persons move to congregations where practices differ regarding age for first Communion, care needs to be taken that the difference in practice is resolved in a manner which promotes growth in faith and discipleship for all who are concerned.
11. Preparation for the sacrament does not make one worthy to receive the sacrament. However, personal preparation, which may include self-examination, private confession, prayer, fasting, reconciliation with others, and meditation, is encouraged.
12. Personal and corporate educational activities of a life-long nature are encouraged as a means of developing an awareness of and receptivity to the gifts of Word and Sacrament.
13. We are committed to eucharistic hospitality. Baptized persons of Lutheran and other Christian faith communities are welcomed to the Lord's Table.
14. Because of the universal nature of the church, Lutherans may participate in eucharistic services of other Christian churches. As a visitor, one should respect the practice of the host congregation.
15. Lutherans traditionally use bread and wine in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. In certain circumstances grape juice is used. (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Matt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25.)
16. Both elements are offered in Holy Communion. Communicants normally receive both bread and wine. Under certain circumstances the reception of only one element is acceptable.
17. Practices vary as to the use of one loaf of bread or wafers and as to the use of a chalice or individual glasses. A loaf of bread and the common cup are rich biblical symbols of the unity of the church.
18. Holy Communion, usually celebrated within a congregational setting, may also be celebrated in non-congregational settings where the baptized gather for worship. The presider is to be an ordained minister.
19. Congregations will provide Holy Communion for those persons who, for reasons of illness or confinement, are unable to attend public worship. As an extension of the congregation's celebration of the Eucharist, trained and designated lay members may distribute Holy Communion following the worship service. At other times, ordained persons may celebrate the sacrament with those unable to participate in public worship. (Occasional Services, pp. 76-88.)
20. The biblical words of institution declare God's action and invitation. They are set within the context of the Great Thanksgiving. A variety of eucharistic prayers is available and their use is encouraged. These prayers of thanksgiving lift up the gracious work of God in creation, redemption, and sanctification.
21. A sufficient quantity of bread and wine to serve the congregation is brought to the altar. Should more of either element be needed during distribution, a further prayer for the sanctification of the elements may be said.
22. The elements offered for the celebration of the Lord's Supper have been set aside for a special purpose. Leftover elements are consumed by those present, or disposed of in an appropriate manner.
23. A variety of practices is followed in the distribution and reception of the elements. The practice chosen should provide the image and experience of unity in the body of Christ. One post-Communion blessing, after all have been served, best expresses this unity. Either kneeling or standing is an acceptable posture for reception. Care needs to be taken to ensure that hospitality is extended to disabled persons.
"Statement on Sacramental Practices" of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.