I have read, many times here, how close the beliefs of Lutherans (LCMS and others) are to Catholic beliefs regarding the Eucharist. Having experienced the LCMS church myself, before I converted, I understand that, from a theological point of view. However, in practice, what I experienced was quite different.
If you were to attend a typical Catholic mass, you see the Body and Blood being handled very carefully and reverently. Everything is carefully rinsed and even the crumbs are accounted for. After mass, the Body and Blood are reposed in safety.
How different it was in the Lutheran church that I attended! They used little plastic cups, which always left behind a little at the bottom of each one, and then tossed them after the service. Sometimes, the stacks of cups spilled onto the floor, but no one seemed concerned. After the service, from what I remember, the Body and Blood were consumed, except for the leftovers in those little cups. Such casual handling of Jesus’ Blood would send most Catholics into conniptions. I understand the Lutheran church does not believe in transubstantiatiation, but if it’s very close, why isn’t communion done in a more reverent manner, at least during the service itself? Is what I observed (in several different churches) unusual? If so, how is it supoosed to be conducted differently?
What was it like in the historical church and when did they change their practices? In Martin Luther’s day, since he was still a priest capable of holding a valid mass, I am guessing he treated the Body and Blood the same as he did when he was still in the Catholic Church. Is that right? I know that the Episcopal and Anglican churches are very close in their beliefs as well and reverent about handling the Body and Blood, both during and after the service.
For those who speak of the possible union or mutual recognition between the Lutheran and Catholic Churches, wouldn’t communion practices have to change in order to foster a reverence in the congregations?
I do hope and pray for a tighter bond between Lutherans and Catholics and that led me to wonder about communion practices in the Lutheran church and if they might change.