"That's not very loving," said the guest who requested to attend the Lord's Supper at our altar one Sunday. He and his wife were visiting from another church not in fellowship with ours. "It's like you think that you are better than us."
Oh, contraire my friend.
A Lutheran Altar is no place for the good, it is no place for the strong. It is no place for the healthy. As Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick." A Lutheran altar is reserved for those who are sick, who are sinful, evil, and weak. When my visiting friend was put off by our refusal to allow him to attend he was put off by the wrong thing. It is not that he was not good enough to attend. It is precisely the opposite. He was not bad enough.
The Catechism says that the Supper is "the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and the wine instituted by Christ himself for us Christians to eat and to drink." and that "These words, 'Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,' show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words." The body and blood of Jesus are the body and blood of Jesus for sinners.
For those of us who have a terminal case of sin, there is no better medicine than the body and blood of Jesus. For those of us who are dying in our own trespasses and sin, there is no greater hope than receiving the body and blood of Jesus into my mouth. That body and blood is life; and not just a little extra life tacked on to an existence that is going to end soon anyway. It is life that never ends. It is eternal life.
If you're not sick you don't take medicine. Likewise, if you're good you don't need forgiveness. If your only problem is that you need to have your memory jogged from time to time you don't need "the body and blood of Jesus given for us Christians to eat and to drink." This body and blood is God's gift for sinners. My friend was not welcome to come because he needed more than just some quality time with the other people sitting in the pews. He needed Jesus.