I Know Why the Widemouthed Frog Mumbles

With apologies to Maya Angelou, I begin. I know why the widemouthed frog mumbles.  Actually I now know why the LCMS does. First the widemouthed frog.

There once was a curious widemouthed frog who went hopping through life asking questions about everything. Once for example, he was curious about what mothers fed their babies.  He hopped up to a bird on the nest and said with his lips flapping widely, “What do you feed your bay-bies?”  “Worms,” the mother bird replied.  Next he hopped over to a dog with puppies and said with the same widemouthed articulation, “What do you feed your babies?”  “Milk,” replied the mother dog.  Finally he hopped over to the pond where a big bass was near the shore.  “What do you feed your babies,” said the widemouthed frog in his widemouthed way.  “Widemouthed frogs,” the bass replied.  “O really,” the widemouthed frog said in a most indistinct, tightlipped way.

It’s better heard than read; trust me; your kids will love the joke.  But it’s no joke that the LCMS, who has never publicly eschewed the doctrine of closed Communion, has been mumbling at best about it for many years.  Now I know why the LCMS mumbles.

A faithful brother sent me The American Association of Lutheran Churches statement on Communion.  Here it is unedited and with apologies to orthodox Lutherans everywhere especially those suffering for the Lord’s name and truth.

Do you practice open or closed communion?

We practice “responsible communion,” which is neither open nor closed. That is, according to the Bible we have a responsibility to tell people what we believe (“we receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ with the bread and wine, for the forgiveness of sins”), based on Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-28. The person has the responsibility to check with the Bible to ensure that it does teach that, and that the person agrees with that. Administration is left with the local pastor as part of his pastoral care. (http://taalc.org/FAQ/CommunionInTheAALC.html).

When I read this the scales fell off.  Now I see why we have become like the widemouthed frog in front of the bass when it comes to speaking the truth about our Communion practice.  Now I know why the Fox News method of celebrating Holy Communion has come to prevail among us, i.e. we tell you what it is and what we believe about it and you decide to attend or not.

Here for example is Faith Lutheran Church’s, Georgetown, TX full Communion Statement.


Holy Communion is the special Supper of the Lord for the people of God!  If you arrive a few minutes early, you might want to take a look at the wonderful list of Luther’s questions and answers in the hymnal (page 329-330)!  Simply, though, some questions to ask oneself are these:

-Do you believe that you are a sinner?

-Are you sincerely sorry that you have offended a holy God?

-Do you believe that Christ is the one and only Savior from sin?

-Do you believe that when Jesus said “This IS My body…This IS My blood”, He literally meant His real presence?

-Do you understand that in this Supper you receive the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation won for you by the shedding of the Savior’s blood?

-Do you understand that you come with nothing to offer but your sin and leave filled to overflowing with all the gifts of heaven?

-Are you willing to turn over a new leaf and walk in the ways of your Master, with the Spirit’s aid and help?

If you can answer “Yes!” to these questions, then welcome to the Feast of Victory!  There is a place-setting at the Table for you!  That person is worthy and well-prepared who has faith in these words:  “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins!”

Children and youth who have not yet received their Christian instruction are invited to come forward with arms crossed and receive a verbal blessing from the pastor or assisting elder.

Kneel or stand at the altar rail according to your ability!

Receive the wafer by extending a raised and open hand!

During the Continuous Communion at 8:45 AM, you are invited to kneel or stand  at the rail for a time of prayer!

There are several cups of grape juice in the center of the tray for those who are alcohol intolerant.

Wheat-free wafers are available as needed.

The first person in line proceeds to the wall and is the first to depart after Communion!

You are encouraged to sing, pray, read a psalm in the Lutheran Service Book, or reflect on a Communion hymn [#’s 617-643] during the Distribution!

If you have further questions about the Lord’s Supper, please arrange for a meeting during the week with one of our pastors!

It’s virtually the same as the AALC.  Such a policy does not have pastors as stewards of the mysteries of God but as wait staff at a restaurant.  You decide to come to our place for dinner; you decide if our food is what you believe in eating and we serve you.  Never mind that last week you ate at the Catholic church and next week you’ll dine with the Presbyterians.

But wait Faith, Georgetown, TX closes with this pastorally responsible caveat.  “If you have further questions about the Lord’s Supper, please arrange for a meeting during the week with one of our pastors!” (N.B. the exclamation mark indicates they’re really excited about this prospect.) Would any responsible pharmacy think they were really practicing “responsible” drug distribution if they left it up to people to decide who got prescription ear drops let alone pain meds or psychotropics?  Would they have the nerve to put at the bottom of their label, “If you have further questions about Oxycodone / Prozac, please arrange for a meeting with one of our pharmacists?”  No, but they’re distributing dangerous medicine.  We’re only distributing the Body and Blood of God that if misused can only make you weak, sick, or dead! (Here the exclamation point is for emphasis. Fitting, don’t you think?)

We have the nerve to tolerate and/or practice open Communion because we have been in fellowship with the AALC since 2007.  We bold, brazen widemouthed frogs let a big bass in the form of the little ole AALC (78 congregations) into our pond and all we can mutter in the face of unfaithfulness like theirs is a tightlipped, “O really.”


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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