Gottesdienst
Gottesblog Revision2.jpg

Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Sacramental Order


By Larry Beane

I recently drove a festive couple of Uber passengers who were trying to remember the mnemonic for Beverage Order: Was it "beer before liquor" or "liquor before beer"?  There are different opinions on this matter, but there is indeed an old adage concerning this order that has apparently been debunked as a myth.

Unless I'm quite mistaken, it's a universal practice in the Christian Church across denominational lines that Holy Baptism precedes the Holy Eucharist, that disciples are made by the former rather than by the latter, and that only the disciples are to participate in the Lord's Supper.  

Of course, admittance to the table is a thorny and contentious issue in our Synod, which has historically - with some limited pastoral exceptions - endorsed Eucharistic fellowship only with members of LCMS congregations and of those church bodies in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS.  This practice is sometimes called "closed" or "close" or "close(d)" communion - although I find these distinctions hard to understand.  Actual admission practice varies widely, as any visitor to other LCMS parishes will conclude just by looking at various communion statements.

In the above Facebook post, a non-baptized visitor has taken part in the Eucharist on Good Friday at an LCMS congregation.  He is now ready to take the "next" step by being "signed up" for the next "baptism."

Of course, keeping track of communicant visitors from other LCMS congregations is difficult at times (and this is exacerbated during festival services), and certainly any pastor who has served for any amount of time in the parish has, no doubt, accidentally and inadvertently communed people whom he mistook for someone else, or mistakenly believed should have been communed.  The best construction is that this is the case here.

However, this post does raise an interesting question: are we bound by the traditional Sacramental Order: "Baptism before Supper is proper, Supper before Baptism is schism"?  Or is this just a New Wives' Tale that Snopes and Mythbusters will denounce as Fake Sacramentology?  Is there good reason to retain the traditional Sacramental Order?  What would the ramifications be of communing people prior to Holy Baptism?

By the way, the old saying goes:

Liquor before beer, you're in the clear.
Beer before liquor, never been sicker.

To my knowledge, Gottesdienst has never taken an official position on Beverage Order, nor have the Scriptures, the Confessions, the COP, the CTCR, nor the CCM... though it is quite possible, if not probable, that the issue has been taken up in conventions.