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Why Do You Commune Yourself?

The administration of the Sacrament of the Altar is one of the Pastor's primary responsibilities. “Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call” (AC XIV). There is no greater task or privilege for the Pastor than to distribute the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to penitent sinners. Physically handing you the forgiveness of your sins.

Is the fact that I commune myself an action that separates me from the congregation? Absolutely not. Everyone in the congregation, the Pastor included, receives Communion from the same hand. This testifies of our unity in this meal. Jesus communed Himself when He instituted the Lord's Supper: “I shall never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). Jesus communed with His disciples at the Last Supper, but who communed Him? He communed everyone.

The ancient practice of the Church had the pastor communing himself before distributing it to the congregation. For a while it was taught in the LCMS that the Pastor should NEVER commune with his congregation unless there was another Pastor present. Everyone could only receive Communion from a Pastor's hand. When the Pastor doesn’t commune in the Divine Service, this was when he separates himself from the congregation.

Our new hymnal has taken out the ambiguity in the Altar Book in the rubrics involving Distribution: “The pastor and those who assist him receive the body and blood of Christ first, the presiding minister communing himself and his assistants. Then they distribute the body and blood to those who come to receive” (p. 249). This is the hymnal with which I was trained and is in use by the congregation.

The administration of the Lord's Supper is the Pastor's responsibility. Even for himself. The congregation calls a Pastor so that they may have the Word preached to them and a man to give them the blessings of the forgiveness of sins in the Lord's Supper. Pastor is no different in his need for these gifts for himself.

St. Paul summarizes it best, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1).