Last Sunday in our parking lot gatherings, I read an exhortation as we prepare to come to the Communion table for the first time in over seven months. Some of you have asked for the language and others may want to reflect on the word before you come to the table this Sunday.
As Thomas Cranmer prepared the first Prayer Books in the English language (1549 and 1552), he took cues from other Reformers in Europe who included paragraph-length exhortations to be read to those preparing to come to the table. This past Sunday, we read the following exhortation, which is a compilation and modernization of several sections from Cranmer’s original exhortations. May it encourage you as you prepare to come to the table.
“Brothers and sisters in Christ, we who would come to the holy communion of the body and blood of our Savior Christ must consider how St. Paul exhorts us to examine our lives before presuming to eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For the benefit is great, if with a penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy sacrament. We then spiritually eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood; we dwell in Christ and he in us; we are one with Christ and Christ with us. Yet also the danger is great, if we receive the bread and cup unworthily. Judge yourselves therefore, that you be not judged of the Lord. Repent truly of your sins, having a steadfast faith in Christ our Savior. Amend your lives and love your neighbor.
If you are thinking about not coming because you have worldly business or perceive you have more important things to do, I urge you to reconsider and come to the table for the strength you need. If you are thinking about not coming because you know yourself to be a grievous sinner, and completely unworthy, I assure you that this posture of need is exactly what qualifies you to come to the table. The Lord’s Supper exists so that we would always remember the exceedingly great love of Jesus Christ, who died for us and by his precious blood obtained for us innumerable benefits. He instituted and ordained the Table as a pledge of his love, and as a remembrance of his death, all to our great and endless comfort. So as we approach next week, let us prepare ourselves to draw near and take the holy sacrament to our comfort.“