The Difference in Denominations

It bears saying again that Communion is the single most important part of the church’s life. In Exodus 33:12-16, Moses reminds God that it is His presence among them that defines them as the people of God, distinct and special among all the peoples of the world.

Everything the church does is a lead up to Communion, the celebration where God is physically present with His people. Mission work, baptism, and even the Scripture readings are all preparation for this wondrous moment.

One crisis faces by most every denomination is that Christians fail to see a distinction between the different denominations and feel free to float between them whenever they wish. For some denominations this isn’t a problem because those church bodies have very little set in stone and are willing to accept wide variances in even core tenets of the faith. However, even church bodies that are not so fluid in their beliefs, people simply do not see a difference.

The fault for this is often either a lack of understanding or in an individual’s refusal to accept the denomination’s stance on matters. In any event, this mindset creates some serious problems, especially when it comes to Communion.

I’ve said before that trying to commune in a church that holds different beliefs creates dissonance in the proclamation of that congregation. This dissonance is counter to the work of Communion and thus should not be tolerated for the good of all involved. At the same time, I as an individual should not even want to be a part of a church that has a low view of the sacraments, such as seeing it as a memorial meal, or worse yet, rejecting the sacraments entirely.

If Communion and the attendant presence of God is the most important and special thing one can have, then being in a congregation that does not even consider this a possibility is cut yourself off from the greatest gift God gives us in this mortal life. That means this distinction between denominations couldn’t be greater.

It is for this reason we must be diligent in our instruction in the sacraments. Luther’s Small Catechism, for all its value, is truly only a starting point. The education most kids get in their confirmation classes is rarely enough to explain and demonstrate what distinguishes denominations from each other. Usually it is enough to state that Communion is important, but not enough to explain why Lutherans should celebrate it in a Lutheran church. We must take our sacramental education up a notch so sacraments can again take their primary place in the life of the church and be the benefit they were meant to be.

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