Institution, Nature, and Purpose
The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is to be observed until He comes again, in remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself, which He offered up on the cross. The physical elements of bread and wine represent the broken body and shed blood of the Savior, and are received by true believers as signs and seals of all the benefits of His sacrifice. The Supper signifies and seals remission of sins, and nourishes our souls to grow in Christ, and is a bond and a pledge of our union and communion with Him and with each other as members of His body, the Church. It assures us that God is faithful to fulfill the promises of the Covenant of Grace, and it calls us to renewed commitment to obey and serve the Lord in gratitude for His salvation. Christ Himself is present by His Spirit at the Supper, to make it truly a means of grace to those who receive it in faith. Those who partake of the Supper do so in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and His blood shed for them. They rejoice in hope as they anticipate the completion of their redemption in that day when they will share in the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Exhortation, Warning, and Invitation
It is the duty of the church to warn you that if you do not trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation, or if you are living an ungodly, disobedient life, and have not repented, you should not partake of the Lord’s Supper lest you eat and drink condemnation to yourself. The Lord’s Supper is for repentant and believing sinners, who, after due self-examination, come confessing Christ as their Savior.
This warning is not designed to keep the humble and contrite away from the Lord’s Supper. On the contrary, the Supper is a means of grace offered to sustain weak pilgrims on their journey through the wilderness of this life. We come to partake of the symbols of Christ’s broken body and shed blood, come as sinners whose only hope is the grace of God in Christ. We come in a worthy manner if we recognize that in ourselves we are unworthy sinners who need a Savior, if we discern His body given for our sins, if we hunger and thirst after Christ, giving thanks for His grace, trusting in His merits, feeding on Him by faith, and renewing our covenant with Him and His people.
If you are prepared to come in this way, then hear the Lord’s words of gracious invitation: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price…Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live.”
Consecration of the Elements
The pastor shall lift the bread and the cup, and exhibit them to the communicants: The Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread and also the cup. Following His example, and ministering in His name, I take this bread and this cup, and exhibit them to you as the sacramental symbols of the body and blood of the Lord.
Replacing the elements, he shall say: After the Lord Jesus had taken the bread and the cup, He blessed them. Let us pray, as we give thanks, and consecrate these elements.
Prayer of thanksgiving and consecration, ending with: Bless so much of these elements as shall be used on this occasion, which we hereby set apart from a common to a sacramental use, in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King and Head of the Church.
The pastor shall take the bread, and break it, saying: After the Lord Jesus had blessed the bread He broke it. Following His command and example, and ministering in His name, I break this bread and give it to you His Disciples, saying as He said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.’
Next the pastor shall take the cup and offer it to the congregation, saying: In the same manner He also took the cup after supper and gave it to His disciples, 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 until He comes.
Post Communion Exhortation
The pastor shall say: “Beloved in the Lord: In this sacrament, God has held forth to us all the riches of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. Yea, he that eats of this bread shall live forever.” Let us remember His promise: “Whosoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has life eternal, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Having such promises, and receiving such grace, let us rise from this table resolved to hold fast the profession of our faith in Christ, and to walk worthy of Him in all things. Let us remember His charge to His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me, and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself unto Him.”Note on sources: This Service of Communion is taken from the 2009 Directory for Public Worship of the RPCNA.