In Lutheran Service Book, the most recent hymnal in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the prescribed (suggested?) dismissal from the Lord’s Altar runs like this: “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Depart + in peace” (LSB 164, 181, 199, 210, 218). This is significant because the previous LCMS hymnal had this form: “The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the truth faith to life everlasting. Go in peace” (Lutheran Worship 152, 173). Lutheran Book of Worship (primarily used in the ELCA, but used by some LCMS congregations) had a shorter (and lamer) dismissal: “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and keep you in his grace” (LBW 72, 92, 115). The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) had the dismissal in a sort of split form: “May this [body or blood] strengthen and preserve you in the true faith unto life everlasting!” and then: “Depart in peace” (The Lutheran Liturgy 24). But theEvangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (1931 ed.), published by Concordia Publishing House, had “The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and His precious Blood strengthen and preserve you in the true faith unto everlasting life” (14). This seems to be a word-for-word translation of the dismissal in the Kirchenbuch I have (for which I don’t have a publisher or date, since those pages are missing; if anyone can check, it’s a black book with “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” on the front).
I do this exercise simply to point out the seeming novelty of the LSB dismissal. Whatever their differences, none of the other hymnals have anything like the “in body and soul” of LSB. (Although, interestingly, the modern Finnish Lutheran Mass has: “May the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve our spirit, soul and body [, the entire being of each of us,] [sic] until eternal life.”) The question is, what does the novelty (and every novelty should be extensively interrogated) do? I have heard one pastor oppose it based on the fact that my body is still dying, still subject to disease, still dealing with physical ailments after I receive the Supper. Thus, the Supper applies to me only spiritually and not physically.
With (admittedly minor) apologies to that pastor, who wants to take seriously what we experience in this world and life, such a view raises a number of troubling questions: is salvation (and the Body and Blood of Christ can be nothing else) only for souls now, and for bodies only later? What does it mean for Christ’s Body and Blood to preserve us unto life everlasting? Do the Body and Blood of Christ, which we believe are actually and really eaten and drunk, only affect “half” of us? How is that possible? Is Jesus Himself present only according to His human spirit (or even His divine Spirit)?
The answers to all of those questions go to the heart of what it means to eat this Body and Blood and to be saved by this Christ. And the LSB dismissal (whatever its provenance; someone with more resources at hand will have to see if it truly is a novelty in the Lutheran Divine Service) acknowledges what I take to be the serious implications of actually eating and drinking the fully divine, fully human Christ’s actual Body and Blood.