Thursday, November 28, 2013

Alternative Forms of Service (2009): The Holy Communion: Initial Directions


The celebration of The Holy Communion is the action of the whole people of God. The ministry of the members of the congregation is expressed through their active participation in the liturgy, and by some of them reading the Lessons and leading the Intercessions. It is highly desirable that a different person read each Lesson and a different person lead the Intercessions.

Communicants should partake of the Lord’s Supper regularly and frequently, after careful preparation.

The minister shall frequently remind the people of what is required of those who come to receive the Lord's Supper, as set forth in the Catechism and the Exhortations.

It shall also be his duty to warn individually any whom he knows to be living in grievous sin, that they presume not to come to the Lord's Table until they give evidence that they truly repent; and if they do not heed his warning, he shall refuse to administer the Communion to them.

He shall deal in the same manner with those between whom he perceives malice and hatred to exist, not allowing them to be partakers of the Lord's Table until they be reconciled. But if one of the parties is willing to forgive and, to the best of his ability, to make whatever amends may be proper, and the other party refuses to do so, the Minister shall admit the penitent person to the holy Communion and refuse him that is obstinate.

Before repelling any from the Lord's Table under the provisions of this rubric, the minister should consult with the bishop. After so repelling any, he shall within fourteen days give a written account to the bishop, who shall take such action as he deems necessary.

And there shall be no celebration of the Lord’s Supper, except when there are three (or two at least) of the people to communicate with the priest.

The bread and wine for the communion shall be provided at the expense of the parish.

It is sufficient that the bread be such as is usually eaten.

If any of the consecrated bread and wine remains, it shall not be carried out of the church, but the priest, and such other communicants as he shall request shall consume it after the Communion or immediately after the Blessing.

For the significance of kneeling to receive the Lord’s Supper, see the declaration that is printed at the conclusion of the Communion Service in The Book of Common Prayer of 1662.

Notwithstanding anything contained in these rubrics, when circumstances require it, communicants may stand to receive the Communion at the Lord’s Table or may remain in their seats and receive Communion where they are seated.

When the minister gives notice of the celebration of communion, he may read this Exhortation.

Dearly beloved, on…next, I intend, through God’s assistance, to administer to all who shall be spiritually and devoutly disposed, the most comforting sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, to be received by them in remembrance of his meritorious cross and passion, by which alone we obtain forgiveness of our sins, and are made partakers of the kingdom of heaven. For this reason it is our duty to give our most humble and heartfelt thanks to our heavenly Father that he has given his Son our Savior Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that holy Sacrament. This is so divine and strengthening a thing to those who receive it worthily, and so dangerous to those who presume to receive it unworthily; my duty is to exhort you, in the meantime, to consider the dignity of that holy mystery and the great peril of the unworthy receiving of it, so that you may search and examine your own consciences (and that not lightly, and after the manner of dissemblers with God,) but so you may come holy and clean to such a heavenly feast, in the marriage –garment required by God in holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy Table.

The way to prepare yourselves is to examine your life and conduct by the rule of God’s commandments, and wherever you see you have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there to lament your sinfulness and to confess your sins to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if you think that you have injured not only God but also your neighbor, then you must ask his forgiveness as well, and make good, to the full extent of your ability, any injury or wrong that he has suffered at your hand. You must likewise forgive others who have injured you, if you desire God to forgive your offenses. For if you receive the Holy Communion without God’s forgiveness, you only increase the judgment under which you already stand. Should any you be a blasphemer of God, a hinderer or slanderer of his Word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other serious offence, repent of your sins, or else do not come to that holy table; [from fear that, after taking of that holy Sacrament, the devil enter into you, as he entered Judas, and fill you full of wickedness, and bring you to destruction both of body and soul.]

And since no one should come to the Lord’s table without a full trust in God’ mercy and a quiet conscience, if there is any one of you who cannot quieten his conscience by these means, but needs further help or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned minister of God’s word, and open his grief, that by the ministry of God’s holy word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with spiritual counsel and advice, and so be quietened in his conscience, and resolve all scruples and doubts.

Or he may use this Exhortation.

Dear brothers and sisters, on … I intend, by God’s grace, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper: to which, in God’s behalf, I bid all who are here present; and implore you, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, that you will not refuse to come to the Lord’s Supper, being so lovingly called and bidden by God himself. You know how grievous and unkind a thing it is, when a man has prepared a sumptuous feast, spread his table with ample fare, so there lacks nothing but the guests to sit down; and yet those who are called (without any cause) most unthankfully refuse to come. Which of you in such a case would not be moved? Who would not think a great injury and wrong done to him or her? On account of which, most dearly beloved in Christ, take good heed for fear that you, withdrawing yourself from this holy Supper, provoke God’s indignation against you. It is an easy matter for a man or a woman to say, I will not communicate, because I am otherwise hindered with worldly business. But such excuses are not so easily accepted and taken into account by God. If anyone says, I am a grievous sinner, and therefore I am afraid to come: Is this not reason for you to repent of your sins and to amend your life? When God calls you, are you not ashamed to say you will not come? When you should return to God, will you excuse yourselves, and say you are not ready? Consider earnestly with yourself how little such pretended excuses will be of use with God. The invited guests who refused the feast in the Gospel, because they had bought a farm, or would try their yokes of oxen, or because they were married, were not so excused but counted unworthy of the heavenly Feast. I, for my part, shall be ready; and according to my office, I bid you in the Name of God, I call you in Christ’s behalf, I exhort you, as you love your own salvation, that you will be partakers of this Holy Communion. And as the Son of God did condescend to yield up his soul by death upon the Cross for your salvation; so it is your duty to receive Communion in remembrance of the sacrifice of his death, as he himself has commanded: which if you neglect to do, consider with yourselves how great injury you do to God. And how grievous punishment hangs over your heads for this injury; when you willfully abstain from the Lord’s Table, and separate from your brothers and sisters, who come to feed on the banquet of that most heavenly food. If you earnestly consider these things, you will by God’s grace return to a better mind: for obtaining of which we shall not cease to make our humble petitions to Almighty God our heavenly Father.  

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