Celebration of the Lord's Supper – Form 1

Preparatory Exhortation

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, listen to the words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper as they have been handed down by the apostle Paul: For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognising the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Corinthians 11:23-29).

In obedience to these words and in fellowship with the church universal we shall commemorate the death of our Saviour in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper on the coming Lord's Day. (Or, we now commemorate the death of our Saviour in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper). However, to do so to our comfort we must first examine ourselves as the apostle has admonished.

Let each of us, therefore, consider his sin and guilt, against which the wrath of God is so great that he has punished it in his beloved Son with the bitter and shameful death of the cross; and let him examine whether his heart accordingly is filled with that godly sorrow which brings repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Let each of us also search his heart to see whether he truly believes in Jesus Christ as his only Saviour, and accepts the gracious promise of God that, for the sake of the passion and death of Christ, all his sins are now forgiven him and he is clothed with the perfect righteousness of the Son of God.

Finally, let each of us examine his conscience to see whether he resolves in all sincerity and gratitude to serve Jesus Christ as Lord, and in all things to live by his commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind ... and ... your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37, 39).

As we thus examine ourselves, let us be assured that God will certainly receive in grace and welcome to the table of his Son all those who walk in this repentance and faith.

On the contrary, those who are yet unrepentant or unbelieving eat and drink judgment to themselves if they partake. The Lord admonishes them through his apostle to abstain from this holy supper lest their punishment be made heavier. Therefore we also charge those who wilfully continue in their sins to keep themselves from the table of the Lord (such as all who trust in any form of superstition; who honour images or pray to saints; who despise God's Word or the holy sacraments; who take God's name in vain; who desecrate the Lord's Day; who are disobedient to those in authority over them; drunkards, gamblers, murderers, thieves, adulterers, liars and unchaste persons). To all such we say in the name of the Lord that as long as they remain unrepentant and unbelieving they have no part in the kingdom of God.

However, this solemn warning is not intended, beloved in the Lord, to discourage the contrite hearts of believers, for we do not come to this supper claiming any merit in ourselves. On the contrary, we come testifying that we seek our salvation apart from ourselves in Jesus Christ. By this testimony we humbly confess that we are full of sin and worthy of death. By this testimony we also confess that we believe the sure promise of God: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). This promise assures us that no sin or weakness which still remains in us against our will can hinder us from being received by God in grace and accounted worthy partakers of his heavenly food and drink.

Thus assured, let us at the appointed hour come with quiet conscience and fullness of faith to keep this sacramental feast which our Lord appointed to be a continual memorial of his atoning death until he comes again.

That we may obtain help in this, let us implore God for his grace.

Prayer

Almighty God, our Father, by your law all men are tried and by your gospel we have hope. Help us to examine ourselves as we have been called to do.

In your grace you welcome us to the table of your Son. In mercy regard our miseries and have compassion on us in our weakness. We accuse ourselves and lay transgression to our charge. Enable each of us in the light of your holy Word to read the secrets of his own heart and to recognise the fruits of your work of grace within. Strengthen us by your Holy Spirit so that we may obediently heed your call in sincere repentance and true faith.

Graciously remove whatever in us might impede our coming. Let no love of sin or untruth, no pride or lust of heart, no hatred or envy toward our neighbour, no remnant of unbelief remain within us to hinder our glad response. By your Spirit enable us to commemorate in an unbroken bond of Christian fellowship the atoning death of our Saviour.

Hear us, we pray, in the name of our ever-living Intercessor, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, belong all praise and glory. Amen.

Formulary

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the night in which he was delivered up to be crucified, the Lord Jesus instituted the sacrament of holy communion, saying, This do in remembrance of me. In obedience to that command we now celebrate this memorial feast. We therefore bid all of you who have confessed your Lord, and who have truly examined yourselves according to the admonition of the apostle Paul, to come in contriteness of heart and assurance of faith to commune with Christ by partaking of this holy supper.

As we now draw near, let us consider for what purpose the Lord has instituted his supper: namely that we should keep it in remembrance of him, and that he by this sacrament should nourish and refresh us unto eternal life.

To observe this holy supper in remembrance of him is to proclaim our Lord's death until he comes again. In partaking of this supper, therefore, we remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour promised to the fathers in the Old Testament; that he is the eternal and only begotten Son of God; that he assumed our human nature, in which he fulfilled for us all obedience and the righteousness of God's law; and that he bore for us the wrath of God under which we should have perished everlastingly. We remember that he was bound that we might be loosed from our sins; that he was innocently condemned to death that we might be acquitted at the judgment seat of God; that he became a curse for us to fill us with his blessing; and that he humbled himself on the cross to hell's deep agony, which wrung from him the cry, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? that God might never forsake us. We remember also that he was buried to sanctify the grave for us, that he was raised for our justification, that he is exalted at God's right hand, and that he shall come again to judge the living and the dead. And we remember that the shedding of his blood has confirmed for us the new and eternal testament, the covenant of grace.

As we thus commemorate the death of Jesus Christ, we are assured that he will truly nourish and refresh us with his crucified body and shed blood to everlasting life. This he promises in the institution of this supper, saying of the bread, This is my body; and of the wine, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26, 28). With these words our Lord directs our faith to his perfect sacrifice, once offered on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation. He also assures us that he by his death has taken away our sin, the cause of our eternal death, and has obtained for us the life-giving Spirit. By this Spirit, who dwells in Christ as in the Head and in us as his members, he brings us into true communion with himself and makes us partake of all his riches, of life eternal, righteousness and glory. By this same Spirit he unites us with all true believers in one body in true brotherly love, as the holy apostle says: Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf (1 Corinthians 10:17).

And in that it is said to us, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26), we are assured by this holy supper that our Lord Jesus will come again to receive us to himself and that we shall sit down with him and drink with him the fruit of the vine in the newness of our Father's kingdom (Matthew 26:29).

That we may now obtain these blessings, let us ask God for his grace.

Prayer

Merciful God and Father, your grace abounds beyond all our sins. In this supper, in which we commemorate the death of your dear Son, will you so work in our hearts that we may yield ourselves ever more fully to Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, nourish and refresh us with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, who is the heavenly bread, so that we may no longer live in our sins, but he in us, and we in him.

So confirm us in the covenant of grace, we pray, that we may not doubt that you will forever be our gracious Father, nevermore imputing our sins to us and abundantly providing us with all things necessary for body and soul, as your dear children and heirs.

Grant us your grace that we may cheerfully take up our cross, deny ourselves, confess our Saviour, and in all temptations and trials look for our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, who, when he comes, will make our mortal bodies like his glorified body and take us to himself in eternity.

Answer us, O God and merciful Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, belong all praise and adoration now and evermore. Amen.

(While the table is being prepared an appropriate hymn may be sung).

As we now come to the table of the Lord, let us with heart and mouth confess our catholic, undoubted Christian faith:

  1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
  2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord;
  3. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary;
  4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell;
  5. The third day he rose again from the dead;
  6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
  7. From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
  8. I believe in the Holy Spirit.
  9. I believe a holy catholic church, the communion of saints;
  10. The forgiveness of sins;
  11. The resurrection of the body;
  12. And the life everlasting. Amen.

That we may be nourished with Christ, the true bread from heaven, let us lift up our hearts to Christ Jesus, our Advocate, at the right hand of his heavenly Father. Let us firmly believe all his promises, not doubting that God will, through the working of the Holy Spirit, nourish and refresh us with Christ’s body and blood, as surely as we receive the bread and wine in remembrance of him.

In breaking and serving the bread, the minister shall say:

The bread which we break is a communion of the body of Christ. Take, eat, remember and believe that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was given for a complete remission of all our sins.

In serving the cup the minister shall say:

The cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks is a communion of the blood of Christ. Take, drink, remember and believe that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for a complete remission of all our sins.

 

While the elements are being distributed, the minister may read fitting passages from Scripture, or a hymn may be sung.

 

After the communion the minister shall say:

Beloved in the Lord, since the Lord has now nourished our souls at his table, let us jointly praise his holy name with thanksgiving, and let everyone say in his heart:

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits;

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases;

He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for 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 has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul (Psalm 103:1-4; 8-13; 20-22).

Now To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever (Revelation 5:13). Amen.

Thanksgiving

Let us pray:

Merciful God and Father, we thank you with all our hearts that in your boundless grace you have given us your only begotten Son as a mediator and a sacrifice for our sins, and as our food and drink unto life eternal. We thank you too that you give us a true faith by which we share in your benefits. And since you have through your Son Jesus Christ ordained the holy supper to strengthen that faith, we pray, faithful Father, that through your Holy Spirit this remembrance of our Lord and proclamation of his death may truly increase our faith and enrich our fellowship with Christ. Also use this proclamation of our Lord's death to bring others into this blessed fellowship, so that all your children may be gathered in to share with us the joy of your salvation.

Hear us, heavenly Father, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is the Forms of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand