Lutheran Beliefs on Holy Communion

Holy Communion is a very special and important part in the life of a Lutheran Christian.  Holy Communion goes by various names including The Lord’s Supper, The Meal, The Eucharist, and The Sacrament of the Altar.  These are all terms for the same celebration.  We believe that Jesus gave us this sacrament and has given us the command to continue to practice it.  We find this in scripture in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians.

There are two items that are typically used in Holy Communion at a Lutheran Church:  Bread and Wine.  Sometimes we use communion wafers (a very thin grain wafer – not unlike a cracker) or grape juice – the idea is for us to use one item made from grain (bread/wafer/etc) and another that is from the vine (wine/grape juice/etc.)  We will often call these items the “communion elements.”

During our celebration of communion, we eat and drink the communion elements after they have been blessed with special prayers.  Those in the congregation come forward and receive the elements along with these words of promise: “The Body of Christ, given for you.” And “The Blood of Christ, shed for you.”

Lutheran beliefs about communion are somewhat unique.  While we do not believe that the bread and body literally change physically into the body and blood of Jesus, we do believe and teach that Jesus is very present during Holy Communion.  The phrase you will most often hear is:  truly and substantially present in, with, and under the [elements of bread and wine]

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) of which Zion Lutheran Church is a part, we practice what is called an “Open Table.”  This means that everyone who is baptized is welcome to receive communion with us.  You do not need to be a Lutheran Christian or understand exactly how or why Jesus is with us in the sacrament.  The only requirement is that you trust the words “Given and shed for you.”

At Zion Lutheran, we generally celebrate Holy Communion on the first and third Sunday of each month as well as some special church holidays.  We hope you are able to join us!