Houston Telugu Church aka The Telugu Church Of Houston – Our Redeemer is a sacramental church. God has given two very precious gifts to the church by which He gives the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of eternal life. These gifts are Baptism and Holy Communion. We call these sacraments, which means mystery.
Indeed, it takes faith to believe what God does through the sacraments. If left to our own reason or logic, they remain a mystery. This page is not intended for an in-depth discussion on the theology behind Baptism and Holy Communion. For more information you can click here (the LCMS beliefs page) or you can email one of the pastors any time.
What we would like to inform you of on this page is a little bit about how these sacraments affect you and your involvement at Houston Telugu Church aka The Telugu Church Of Houston – Our Redeemer.
Baptism is the entry point for all Christians into God’s family and Church. We believe Baptism is totally God’s work in us, whereby through his promise and simple water, he gives each of us the unconditional assurance that he will never stop desiring to love us and forgive us our whole life long. Therefore, baptism is only necessary once. In fact, so completely is it God’s work and not ours, the scriptures don’t say anything about what we have to “do” in order to be baptized. We don’t have to make some decision or promise to God. We don’t have to be dunked in a river or anything extreme. We simply need to believe that Jesus Christ has died for the sins of all, including yours and mine, and because of his death, God now chooses to see us no longer as sinful or rebellious people, but rather as his holy children—”holy” not because we stop sinning (if only that were the case!) but “holy” because we are forgiven. He no longer sees our sin! Consider these passages: Romans 6:1-11 & Matthew 28:18-20
For this reason, because baptism is a gift from God that we don’t have to earn in any way, we take Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 literally. We consider ourselves on a mission to bring God’s grace to all nations. For Houston Telugu Church aka The Telugu Church Of Houston – Our Redeemer, that happens acutely right here in the Missouri City/Pearland communities. And we don’t impose manmade rules for baptism. Because the Scriptures don’t specify an age or a specific mode of Baptism, we do it as efficiently as possible and baptize everyone who desires it—regardless of age. In fact, we try to baptize babies as soon as possible. Why would we wait to give them God’s grace?
If you haven’t been baptized, talk to a pastor whenever you are ready. The pastors love to talk about stuff like this! If you would like to have one of your children baptized, we typically baptize during worship services. You and your family and any sponsors or witnesses that you have chosen will come forward to the baptismal font. And there, with the whole congregation, we will celebrate the entry of your little one into the family of God. We are also happy to accommodate special situations for private baptisms outside of the regular worship services.
Like Baptism, Holy Communion is entirely the work of God whereby Jesus Christ is made physically available to sinners through bread and wine (but of course, remember, this is a mystery received in faith. You can’t see or taste Jesus!). We do not believe as some do that this sacrament is only a symbolic gesture nor do we believe that it is merely a remembrance meal, honoring what our Lord has done for us. Instead, we take Jesus at His word when He says “…this is my body… this is my blood.” (Matthew 26:26-28) Only His true body and true blood can forgive sins. A sinner shouldn’t want anything less.
However, unlike Baptism, which is the entry point for Christians into the Church, Holy Communion is a sacrament that is administered as a Christian matures in faith. Because Christ’s body and blood are really present, the Apostle Paul says in 1st Corinthians 11:28-29, “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats or drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” This doesn’t sound like something we should take lightly!
Therefore, Houston Telugu Church aka The Telugu Church Of Houston – Our Redeemer practices what is sometimes called “close communion” meaning that in taking what Scripture says seriously about properly discerning the “body” of Christ, we believe that individuals need to be aware of exactly what it is they are receiving at the altar—the real presence of Jesus’ body and blood. We also believe that because the church is the body of Christ on earth (1st Corinthians 12:12-27), we too should be in agreement in the major doctrines of faith. In this way, Holy Communion becomes not only an inward act of forgiveness and grace from God for the individual, but also an outward sign of our unity in Christ.
For these reasons, most of our members have received instruction before attending Holy Communion. While we understand that there are exceptions to every rule and that God certainly desires that all sinners receive the benefits of His Son, Jesus Christ, we politely ask that all visitors who are of another confession of faith other than that which is taught by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod please refrain from taking communion for the reasons stated above.
In fact, historically, the Church has always observed a practice known as close communion. Even in the ancient church, only those who had been properly instructed in the faith were allowed to receive the sacrament. These individuals in Christian training (called “catechumens”) did not receive Holy Communion until they had made confession of their faith before the congregation. Today, our church observes much the same tradition. Therefore, while all people are invited to worship with us, it is normally our custom that individuals who join with us in Holy Communion be of the same confession of faith—believing and observing all the same doctrines of faith and practice.
Obviously, this sounds odd because of the very inclusive society that we live in where all boundaries are challenged, there is no norm, and the rights of the individual are valued over the good of the collective. However, please know that we do not hold this practice to demean or belittle the practices of other church bodies. Rather, we desire to be responsible in our practice of communion and do all that we can to avoid confusion or doubt about our beliefs and confessions. Sadly, too many disagreements and divisions already exist in Christianity today. It is our prayer that the Holy Spirit might quickly bring about the day when all divisions cease; but until that day, we desire not to contribute to the division but to show that the body of Christ, (the Christians of this congregation) gathered together here at Houston Telugu Church aka The Telugu Church Of Houston – Our Redeemer, is united in one faith and hope.
If you have questions or if are planning on worshiping with us for a while, talk to one of the pastors about your possible involvement in Holy Communion.
Of course, if you don’t know much about the Lutheran church or are not yet sure about what all this means, don’t feel like you can’t come worship with us. EVERYONE IS WELCOME! In fact, please know that even during the part of the service wherein Holy Communion is distributed, you are still invited to come up with everyone else. You can simply cross your arms in front of yourself (as an indication to the pastor) or simply tell the pastor you would like a blessing. We would love to give you one! And don’t worry, you won’t be the only one… you will see many members of our congregation receiving blessings as they are, themselves, still learning about this sacrament.
Thank you for your consideration and respect.