On the first Sunday of every month at Knox Church, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper during our worship service. This is one of the two sacraments (with baptism being the other) ordained by Jesus Christ for his church to perform faithfully until his return. In Luke 22, Matthew 26, Mark 14, and 1 Corinthians 11 we read the events, template, and instructions for this sacrament.
Despite its regular appearance, there remains some confusion and misunderstanding about the Lord’s Supper, and I wanted to clarify what communion is and how we in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church celebrate it.
Chapter 29 in the Westminster Confession of Faith explains the nature of the Lord’s Supper, saying, “The night Jesus was betrayed he instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s supper, to be observed in his church until the end of the world as a perpetual remembrance of his sacrifice in death and as the seal of all the benefits of that sacrifice for true believers. It also signifies the spiritual nourishment and growth of believers in Jesus and their additional commitment to perform all the duties they owe him. Finally it is a bond and pledge of believers’ communion with Jesus and with each other as members of his mystical body.”
In short, Jesus isn’t physically present in the bread and cup, but rather he is spiritually present through the Holy Spirit and works through the elements to encourage us spiritually. By partaking, we share in the suffering and death of Jesus as well. This is an awesome thing!
According to the EPC Book of Order, this “holy sign and seal” represents Christ, confirms our relationship to him, and reveals power through the work of the Holy Spirit. We as a church should not neglect observing the Lord’s Supper, but at the same time, we must properly approach this table when we do come to it. It is vital to examine your relationship with Jesus and confess your sins before coming to the table. Anyone who has made a public profession of faith may partake, but those who have unrepented sin in their life, have not made a public confession of faith (i.e. children or new believers who have not appeared before Session), and those who do not know Jesus Christ.
There are a few rules that we must observe. First, only a lawfully ordained minister may administer the sacraments on behalf of Christ and his Church, while Ruling Elders or Session-approved members may distribute it. Second, communion is ordinarily observed during worship along with the reading and preaching of the Word (but may be administered to those ill or on other days approved by Session). Finally, the Lord’s Supper should be followed by a time of praise and thanksgiving through hymns as a sign of gratitude toward God.
“Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)