Visit to Our Savior Lutheran, Austin, Texas – Theology in a Time of Pandemic

Right off the bat let me say that I heard the Vicarious Atonement, Universal Atonement, and the Bible is the Word of God mentioned. The Nicene Creed was confessed and the Lord’s Prayer prayed. So, an unbeliever could have entered this church and walked out a Christian, but it is doubtful anyone could come out or stay a Lutheran here. Why? It’s the little things.

The “liturgy” here was a modified Page 15 which has a first person indicative absolution. Those words were on the screen but that’s not what the pastor said. He said, “We are forgiven in the Name of the Father….” As much as Evangelicals look down on liturgy and the Reformed on Closed Communion, these two groups equally despise a pastor pronouncing an indicative absolution. Evidently, Our Savior doesn’t want to say that, but our Savior surely left it to His Church to be said. (See Matthew 16; 18 and John 20.)

Already in the 80’s I knew of Lutheran congregations having mood music during the distribution. Our Savior had piano mood music playing in the background throughout the prayer of the church. The pastor knows, because he preached it, that feelings aren’t the be-all and end-all of discipleship. Then again, incense, lighting, stained glass, paraments do indeed set a mood.

Going one step beyond Welches. Read the history of “grape juice communions” as they were spoken of in the Army chaplaincy. Once Welch was able to pasteurize grape juice (1869), the Temperance movement could proceed with getting that demon alcohol out of Communion. Then followed the introduction of the individual cups circa 1890’s. They really came into prominence after WW I when both TB and the Spanish Flu were rampant (,the%20 Spanish%20flu%20were%20rampant).

Great changes come with technology, World Wars, and fear.

Our Savior uses individual, hermetically sealed, bread and wine The pastor directs all those present to open their individual packets. He says the Words of Institution and then the words of distribution and communes himself. I have no problem with the pastor communing himself, but I’m betting this conservative Lutheran church would find this problematic except for the world being at war with a pandemic. But because we are. these Lutherans can do Communion like the Reformed and Evangelicals have always done. At least the churches I attended pre-pandemic did.

This method of consecration raises all sorts of questions, but in the minds of these Christians the protection it affords them outweigh other concerns. This method of distribution fits with their Open Communion policy. The Reformed, Evangelicals, and Non-demons leave it to the individual to decide if they commune, so Communion can be passed down the aisle or distributed to each individual.

Here’s Our Savior’s Communion policy as of 18 April 21:

We believe in Jesus and His Word when He says, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” We believe that we receive the true body and blood of Jesus when we eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper.

If you:

  • Believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior
  • Believe in the true presence of His body and blood
  • Examine your life, confess your sins and see your need for the forgiveness He offers you in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:27-29), and
  • Desire to receive the strengthening of your faith to live a new life

Then come, for these are the gifts of God prepared for the people of God!


See other blogs for why a Fox News Communion statement: we report you decide, is not Closed Communion and how the Large Catechism’s “We don’t intend to give the Lord’s Supper to anyone who does not  know what it is and why they come” is about worthy Communion not who should commune together. The questions to ask here, is it contrary to the apostolic doctrine taught at this altar not to baptize infants, only to baptize believers, abort the unborn, live together, embrace the LGBTQ agenda? Is not believing God said something He did say or saying He says something He didn’t sinful or not?

When the AIDS epidemic was in high gear, an openly gay congregation decided for the sake of their physical health to discontinue the use of the Common Cup and go to individual cups. You see the irony, don’t you? They thought they were securing themselves against the First Death while running headlong with their sin and sinfulness into the Second Death.

And so Our Savior Lutheran Church by their hermitically sealed Communion packets are protecting themselves from the physical disease of Covid while ignoring the Bible’s warnings about pretending that light can have fellowship with darkness or the Truth with the father of lies. You think my using 2 Cor. 6:13-15 against perhaps fellow Christians is too sharp? True, not every sin de facto drives out the Holy Spirit, some do. But every departure from the Truth is a lie, every step away from the Light is into darkness. Insofar as a fellow Christians maintains a teaching contrary to Scripture he’s in the dark holding on to a lie. 

This really isn’t a little thing even in a time of pandemic.

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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