¶ A preparatory service is considered appropriate prior to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and is to be held at the discretion of each church.
¶ After the sermon, the bread and the wine having been uncovered, the minister shall address the congregation, giving instruction about the institution and nature of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
BELOVED IN THE LORD JESUS: Listen to the words of the institution of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. “The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
¶ If the minister desires, he may use questions and answers 75 through 82 of the Heidelberg Catechism or Belgic Confession article 35 instead of the following paragraph on the nature of the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Until His coming again it is to be observed as a continuing remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death. The physical elements of bread and wine, representing the broken body and the shed blood of the Savior, are received by true believers as signs and seals of all the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. They signify and seal the remission of sins and nourishment and growth in Christ, and are a bond and pledge of the communion of believers with Him and with each other as members of His spiritual body, the Church. As signs and seals of the covenant of grace they not only declare that God is faithful and true to fulfill the promise of the covenant, but they also summon us to all the duties of the children of God, and call us to renewed consecration in gratitude for His salvation.
In order that we may celebrate the Lord’s Supper to our comfort, it is first necessary that we properly examine ourselves. A true examination of ourselves consists in these three parts: First, let everyone consider by himself his sins and accursedness apart from Jesus Christ, so that he may be displeased with himself and humble himself in the presence of God. Second, let everyone examine his heart as to whether he truly believes this certain promise of God that all his sins are forgiven only for the sake of Jesus Christ. Third, let everyone search his conscience whether he is determined to show his gratitude to God the Lord all the days of his life by walking uprightly before Him.
It is my solemn duty to warn the uninstructed, the profane, the scandalous, and those who secretly and unrepentantly live in any sin, not to approach the holy table, where they would partake unworthily, not discerning the Lord’s body, and so eat and drink judgment to themselves.
Nevertheless, this warning is not designed to keep the humble and contrite from the table of the Lord, as if the supper were for those who might be free from sin. On the contrary, we who are invited to the supper, come as guilty and polluted sinners who are without hope of eternal life apart from the grace of God in Christ. We confess our dependence for pardon and cleansing upon the perfect sacrifice of Christ; we base our hope of eternal life upon His perfect obedience and righteousness; and we humbly resolve to deny ourselves, crucify our old nature, and follow Christ as becomes those who bear
Merciful God and Father, we beseech You that in this supper, in which we cherish the blessed memory of the bitter death of Your dear Son Jesus Christ, You will so work in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that with true confidence we might give ourselves up more and more to Your Son Jesus Christ, in order that our burdened and contrite hearts, through the power of the Holy Spirit, may be nourished and refreshed with His true body and blood, yes, with Christ Himself, Who is true God and man, the only heavenly bread. We pray that we may no longer live in our sins, but that Christ may live in us, and we in Him, so that we may truly be partakers of the new and everlasting testament, the covenant of grace. We do not doubt that You will forever be our gracious Father, never again imputing our sins to us, but providing us with all things necessary for body and soul, as Your dear children and heirs.
Grant us also Your grace, so that we may take up our cross cheerfully, deny ourselves, confess our Savior, and in all our tribulation, with an uplifted head, expect our Lord Jesus Christ to come from heaven, where He will recreate our mortal bodies in the likeness of His glorified body, and take us to Himself in eternity.
Be pleased also, O Lord, to bless these elements of bread and wine, so that receiving them in remembrance of the passion and death of Your dear Son, we may by faith be made partakers of His crucified body and shed blood with all His benefits to our spiritual nourishment and to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.
¶ Then the minister, breaking the bread and pouring the wine, shall repeat the words of institution:
“The Lord Jesus, on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it,
¶ (here the minister shall break the bread),
and said, ‘Take eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner also He took the cup after supper,
¶ (here the minister shall pour out the wine and take the cup),
saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'”
¶ In distributing the bread the minister shall say:
“The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
¶ In giving the cup he shall say:
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?”
¶ After the people assembled at the table have communed, the minister shall dismiss them with the following or another suitable blessing:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all; depart in peace. Amen.
Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? For if when we were ene mies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Therefore our hearts and lives shall show forth Your praises, O Lord, from now on and for evermore. Amen.
¶ Alternate Prayer:
O merciful God and Father, we thank You with our whole heart that in Your boundless mercy You have given us Your only begotten Son to be a mediator and sacrifice for our sins – and our food and drink unto eternal life. We thank You for giving us a true faith, by which we become partakers of these benefits. Through Your dear Son Jesus Christ, You have also instituted and ordained this Holy Supper for the strengthening of our faith. We beseech You, O faithful God and Father, that by the operation of the Holy Spirit the remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ and the proclamation of His death may increase our faith and strengthen our fellowship with Christ; Who taught us to pray, saying: (followed by the Lord’s Prayer).
¶ A suitable hymn of thanksgiving may be sung if desired.
¶ The minister shall pronounce the following or similar benediction:
Now the God of peace Who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.