Holy Communion

 

            The primary expression of Christian worship has always been the Lord’s Supper.  At Holy Trinity Church we call it “Holy Communion” because 1 Corinthians 10:16 calls the cup “the communion of the blood of Christ,” and the bread “the communion of the body of Christ.”  Thus the word, “communion,” signifies the deep fellowship we have with Christ and one another as we receive the Lord’s Supper.  As 1 Corinthians 10:17 says, “we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

 

            The Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper begins on page 67 of the Prayer Book.  It can be divided into three, inter-related parts, each building upon the other. The first is a time of preparation; a time of self examination and of being still and listening to God.  During this time the Ten Commandments are read, followed by Matthew 22:37-40, where our Lord reminds us love is the summary and meaning of the law.

 

            Listening to God naturally includes the reading and attentive hearing of the Bible, so we read at least three passages of Scripture.  The first is from the Psalms.  The second is called the Epistle and comes from a book other than the Gospels.  Third is a reading from one of the four Gospels. The readings are followed by a statement of faith in which we affirm that we believe and accept what the Bible teaches.  At this time the sermon expounds the meaning of the Scriptures and their application to our lives.

 

            It is natural for the ministry of the Word to move us to deep and serious prayer, so we now bow together in a comprehensive prayer that beseeches God’s grace on His Church, civil authorities, ministers, and who are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.

 

            We are getting close to the actual Supper now, and the minister voices God’s invitation to draw near with faith, and receive the Communion to your comfort.  But one more thing needs to be done before we come to the Table. We must go to our knees and lay the burden of our sins at the foot of the cross.  Thus we pray the humble and moving prayer of confession, and hear the promise of the forgiveness of sins to all “who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto Him.”  Several “Comfortable,” or, comforting words of Scripture are now read; words that comfort us with God’s promises of forgiveness and peace.

 

            Now the minister invites us to lift up our hearts.  The Father of all of Mercies has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Our hearts cannot be downcast here.  When the minister says, “Lift up your hearts,” we respond, “we lift them up unto the Lord.”  Here we move into a hymn of praise, which brings us naturally into the second part of the service; gathering around God’s Table to receive the bread and wine.

 

            This is a joyfully solemn moment.  The minister breaks the bread and pours the wine.  He reminds us that we come to the Table trusting only in God’s mercy.  He passes the symbols of Christ’s body and blood, reminding us His real body was broken for us, and His real blood was shed for us.  In the stark and simple act of eating the bread and drinking the wine we remember that Christ died for us, and that our sins are forgiven because He bore them on the cross.  We return to our pews having this in remembrance.

 

            We move now to the third part of the service, the Thanksgiving.  This is done first through the prayer on page 83, giving thanks for the Supper, for the reality of the sacrifice of Christ, and for all the benefits that come to us “by the merits of His most precious death and passion.” Second, we sing a hymn that has expressed the Church’s thanksgiving since very ancient times.  Then a final hymn will be sung while the minister processes to the back door.  We will kneel before the Lord and the minister will pronounce the Benediction, saying:

 

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.

 

 

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