Communion or ‘The Lord’s Supper’ was established by Christ. Just before the crucifixion Jesus met with His disciples in the Upper Room to celebrate the Passover. During the meal He broke bread and shared it with them, explaining that this would remind them of His own body broken for them on the cross. He then offered them wine to drink, to remind them of His blood shed to wash away their sins. This shedding of blood also sealed a new covenant or commitment between God and all followers of Christ. The following Bible verses record how the Lord’s Supper began, Matthew 26:26,Luke 22:17,1 Corinthians 11:23.
The Jewish Passover was the forerunner of Communion. In it the Jews remembered how their lives had been saved because the blood of a lamb had been sprinkled on the door posts of their houses (Exodus 12). At Communion Christians remember how they have been saved because the blood of Christ has been sprinkled for them (1 Peter 1:18-21).
It is every Christian’s duty and privilege to continue to celebrate Communion regularly because Jesus Himself has commanded it. In Communion Christ’s death is remembered, His risen presence is experienced and faith and devotion to Him are renewed.
Communion and Baptism are the two sacraments of our church, both without faith are meaningless, only with faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour do these sacraments take on their powerful meaning.
What happens at Communion?
While in the Reformed Faith we believe strongly that the elements of bread and wine remain as they are in substance, we do believe that through the Holy Spirt Christians are blessed as they share in this sacrament. Along with an opportunity to confess sin and focus on our ongoing relationship with God, there is nourishment, fellowship as well as sharing of a profession of faith in Jesus. For these reasons among others, only those who have faith in Christ can come to the table.
Who should take Communion?
Everyone who has received Jesus as Lord and Saviour is called to partake of the table. It is the natural place for a Christian, to not take communion is to deprive ourselves of a wonderful opportunity to share and express our faith as well as being disobedient to God. The Table is not for those who are unsaved as those without faith in Jesus do not belong to him and are therefore not invited to his table.
Some who genuinely trust and follow Christ never come to the Lord’s Supper because they feel unworthy. We are always unworthy, indeed if we feel worthy in ourselves to come to the Lord’s Supper we should not be coming at all. We must remember that it is Christ Himself who makes us fit to come to His Supper through His dying for us. It is Christ Himself who invites those who love and trust Him to meet at His Table. By saying we can’t come to the table because we are not worthy is really to say that Jesus is unworthy and his sacrifice wasn’t enough for us.
In some places young people are expected to become new communicants merely because they have reached a certain age. Such a practice is clearly wrong in the sight of God for it leads to false promises and potential hypocrisy. “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfil it.”(Ecclesiastes 5:5).
Admission to the Lord’s Supper
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland through the Kirk Session shall admit to the Lord’s Supper only those who have been baptised, who make a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus, and whose character is consistent with such a profession. After a period of instruction new communicants are admitted to the Lord’s Table on profession of faith in Christ. They are introduced to the Kirk Session and formally received into full membership of the church.
Confession and Vows
When becoming a ‘communicant’ each individual is asked to confess their faith and promise to live in the light of it.
“I have received Jesus Christ to be my Saviour and the Lord of my Life” (John 1:12).
Since Jesus Christ the Eternal Son of God dwells in me by the Holy Spirit I shall endeavour with His help:
- To be open to His will for my life
- To life in fellowship with Him through daily prayer and Bible study
- To obey Him and honour Him in my daily life and to witness for Him by what I say and how I live
- To be regular in attendance at worship and at the Lord’s Table
- To be active in the life and work of my own church, to be loyal to its leadership and to support it financially and in every other way I can to play my full part in His mission to the world.
Communion and Membership
Within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland only Communicants are actually members, those who contribute financially without taking communion are known as ‘adherents’ and cannot vote or serve in certain areas of church life. This means it is of great importance that all Christians share at the table as well as being involved in the wider life of the congregation. Church life is centred upon prayer, Bible study, fellowship, outreach, helping others all communicants are called to be an active part in the work of Christ’s church.
Thinking about Communion
To look deeper into the sacrament of communion it would be helpful to read 1 Corinthians ch11 v23-29 as well as to refer to The Shorter Catechism questions 91, 92, 93, 96 & 97. If anyone would like a copy of the catechism or explanation regarding it please speak to the Minister who would only be too happy to help.
Don’t make a rash promise
The Minister and Kirk Session advise everyone involved with the congregation at every level to not only come to a place of personal relationship with Christ, but to grow in that relationship and live it out. Communion is an important and essential part of that relationship and lifestyle. The Lord’s Table should be a place of celebration and blessing as we share in the wonderful promises of God and remembrance the Cross and what Jesus accomplished there. Preparation is necessary for anyone who wishes to come become a communicant and this will be carried out in an unthreatening and friending way. This preparation will give encouragement and support as well as an opportunity to explore the deeper meaning of this sacrament.
Please speak to the Minster or an Elder for more information.