We hope that you will find this communion preparation section of our website useful for you and your family and friends. There is a lot more to communion than just eating a piece of bread and drinking some grape juice or wine. We’d love to grow with you in your understanding of communion. We have included the chapters in the Westminster Confession of Faith on Sacraments and the Lord’s Supper for those who would like to study a little deeper. You can also look up the Scripture that goes with each sentence by clicking on this link (WCF SCRIPTURE PROOFS). Also we will be putting a reflection from the book, “This Is For You, forty reflections on the Sacrament of Communion” by Jimmy Hopper, Tim Lien, and Eric Venable, up each month to help you think about the Lord’s Supper in advance of when we take communion here at New Hope Presbyterian Church, which is normally the first Sunday of the month and Maundy Thursday the Thursday before Easter.
For families we have a workbook that you can pick-up or order yourself online at Doulos Resources by clicking here (www.doulosresources.org), titled Covenant Discipleship Parents handbook, and the Covenant Discipleship Student handbook.
Covenant Discipleship is an alternative to traditional age-based communicant’s classes. Covenant Discipleship gives the nurture and discipleship of a child or student back to the parents, empowering them to help their child to discern whether they are ready to unite with Christ’s church.
Covenant Discipleship is an appropriate tool for students of many ages, beginning in elementary school and ranging through the teenage years. As such, it frees a church predefined age-based judgment of when a covenant child is ready to be admitted to the sacramental table. Because of its home-based, parent-taught structure, it also frees a church from running multiple communicant’s classes for different ages.
To learn more about Covenant Discipleship, and to figure out how it is the right fit for your congregation visit our page of Frequently Asked Questions about Covenant Discipleship.
Reflection for Dec 6, 2015:
“Moving Pictures” by Tim Lien
At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierced side;
Praise we him whose love divine
Gives his sacred blood for wine,
Gives his body for the feast,
Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest.
—Anonymous, 6th Century
We have weak memories, and it’s not just an ailment that strikes the wrinkled among us. Even if we are able to remember certain smells, names, amounts, and dates—it is impossible to capture an entire event within memory. Often, we rely on other tools to recount the birthday, graduation, anniversary, or milestone. Photographs, recordings, and camcorders instantly recall the funeral, the speech, and uncle Harry’s buffoonery. Newspaper clippings and diary entries also connect our memories with slices of history. “Did I really write that about Susie in my biology class?” Objects, too, can trigger our minds to open what has not been considered for many years. Recently, someone showed me a plastic bag filled with grass that had been plucked from the football field after a national championship. Every time he shows people the suspicious-looking baggie, the stories pour out about that special night. The object becomes intricately tied to memory of the event.
Scripture often does the same thing. The Bible constantly recalls, recounts, and remembers. Memory is prominent in the worship of God. Prayers, songs, narratives, genealogies, and proclamations all use similar devices. The people of God are consistently being reminded of covenants that were made long ago with Abraham; they are told to remember God pulling them out of Egypt; they are reminded of God’s constant preservation of his people through every tainted patriarch. The prophets call people to remember ancient things. Remember when Yahweh sustained you with manna? Remember when your God gave victory when the odds were long? Remember? Remember?
Because memory is imperfect, God has given tools for its proper use. Worship jogs our memories. It startles and focuses our senses bringing them backwards to significant events and at the same time bringing the event into the present. The sacrament of communion is one of those God-given tools. It illustrates, represents, explains, recalls, retells, and occupies our minds with the work of Jesus Christ. Communion, once again, does something that we cannot; it calls into our imperfect memories precisely what it wants to evoke, Jesus alone. There is no sentimentalism here. The bread as Christ’s body— the Paschal Lamb, the wine as his blood— the new covenantal seal. Remember? Remember.
Chapter 27 Of the Sacraments
- Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ, and his benefits; and to confirm our interest in him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.
- There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.
- The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.
- There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospel; that is to say, baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.
- The sacraments of the old testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the new.
Chapter 29 Of the Lord’s Supper
- Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.
- In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to his Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that one offering up of himself by himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God, for the same: so that the popish sacrifice of the Mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of his elect.
- The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation
- Private Masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other, alone; as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people, worshiping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about, for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.
- The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that, truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.
- That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries.
- Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
- Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament; yet, they receive not the thing signified thereby; but, by their unworthy coming thereunto, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore, all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table; and cannot, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto.