The LCMS passed a resolution at our last convention that encouraged congregations and individuals to raise awareness about the plight of Christians being persecuted around the world and if nothing else to pray for them. Persecution of Christians has reached an all time high, to the point where Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.
Many Coptic Christians and others have been persecuted in Egypt in the last few weeks and the Pope bravely went to Egypt to visit and then celebrate Mass. It is a brave show of solidarity with persecuted Christians and I am sure a nightmare for Egyptian security.
There is an interesting view about how far solidarity among Christians extends in a portion of an article written for USA Today by Jacob Wirtschafter and Mina Nader on April 29. “Around 25,000 Catholics and others were slated to attend the mass. Coptic, Greek Orthodox and other Christian leaders were also expected, said Father Rafik Greish, the head of the Information Office of the Egyptian Catholic Church. “They will have seats of honor and be wearing their turbans and robes but will not be taking part in the Eucharist,” he said.”
It is a simple fact that the Catholic Church practices a form of “close communion” which means if you are not a Catholic you cannot come to the Lord’s Supper. It is explained this way –
“Scripture is clear that partaking of the Eucharist is among the highest signs of Christian unity: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17). For this reason, it is normally impossible for non-Catholic Christians to receive Holy Communion, for to do so would be to proclaim a unity to exist that, regrettably, does not. Another reason that many non-Catholics may not ordinarily receive Communion is for their own protection, since many reject the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Scripture warns that it is very dangerous for one not believing in the Real Presence to receive Communion: “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Cor. 11:29–30). ”
This is interesting because the Catholic statement is identical to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod’s doctrinal stand. It is a stand to which we get endless criticism. So much so that one of my first Elders said that being LCMS was a form of persecution because people were always giving him the business because of our communion policy. Maybe we should get the local Catholic Priest to explain our communion policy to us.
Meanwhile we pray for the persecuted and ask that God would change the hearts of our enemies and persecutors.