Baptism and the Lord's Supper


Baptisms were normally private matters 50 years ago in Lutheran congregations. They were conducted after a Sunday service concluded as a private ceremony for the immediate family and friends of the infant being baptized. Baptisms sometimes even took place in homes instead of the church. Some congregations didn’t even have a baptismal font.

Teaching about the significance of Baptism was also significantly different from today. Fifty years ago, Baptism was commonly understood as an entrance into the Christian life but few saw it as a continuing marker of Christian living. Even though the Small Catechism was honored and used as the primary textbook for confirmation instruction, the Small Catechism’s admonition to understand Christian life and discipleship as the daily living out of one’s baptism into Christ received no attention.

Many historians believe that Baptism lost its place as the defining marker of the Christian life in the Lutheran community because of the overwhelming influence of the non-sacramental practices and piety of the general Protestant community in the United States.

Always being made new

Beginning with the Lutheran Book of Worship in 1978 and continuing with the release of Evangelical Lutheran Worship in 2006, ELCA congregations have been reclaiming the historic Lutheran practices and piety related to the Sacrament of Baptism. Baptisms today (except in emergencies or other extraordinary circumstances) occur in the context of congregational worship.

We have restored Martin Luther's scriptural teaching that the hallmark of the Christian life is the practice of daily living out our baptismal covenant. Luther taught that each morning we are to rise and say, "I am baptized into Christ" and then go about our daily affairs living in the covenant God made with us in our Baptism. "Walking wet" is now a widely recognized metaphor for being a disciple. And we now frequently celebrate our congregations’ various occasions in the Christian journey through life by using the liturgy for Affirmation of Baptism (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 234).

At Faith Lutheran, all are welcome at the Lord's Table, whether members of Faith Lutheran or not. Communion  takes place in the church on alternate Sundays and on Church holy days (for example, Christmas, Easter, Good Friday). The bread is distributed at the altar by the pastor; the wine, either in individual cups or from a common chalice, is distributed by an assisting minister. Those who are unable to come forward may commune from their pew, the bread and wine being distributed by the pastor and an assistant. Faith members who are homebound may also request communion visits from the pastor.

At Faith Lutheran, baptized children may begin to commune at a time determined through mutual conversation that includes the pastor, the child, and the parents or sponsors involved.

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