An Introduction to the Orders of Service for the Lord's Supper
The Order of Service for the Lord's Supper, sometimes called Holy Communion, has three main divisions:
The Preparation or Approach to God;
The Word of God read and proclaimed; and
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
In the first part, God is approached in prayer and praise, with an acknowledgment of sin, and the assurance of his pardon. In the second part, the Word of God is read and proclaimed, and finds response in redirected lives, praise, the confession of faith, prayers of intercession and generous giving. In the celebration of the sacrament, what is said and done is based on our Lord's actions at the Last Supper as these are recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. The Lord Jesus took bread and wine; gave thanks to God; broke the bread; and gave the bread and the cup to his disciples, saying: This is my body given for you...This cup is the new covenant in my blood...Do this in remembrance of me. The service at the Lord's Table corresponds to these actions of our Lord himself.
It is not intended that the services that follow, or the prayers, are to be regarded as set forms. They do however indicate the order and the mood of prayer appropriate to the various parts of the service, and are consistent with the Word of God and the practice of the Reformed Churches since the Reformation.
Ministers, elders and people share the bread and wine; and it does not matter in what order this is done. The minister may receive first, then the elders and then the people, so that the communion spreads from the Table; or the bread and wine may be taken to the people, so that they are served first, and then the elders, and the minister last. All may eat the bread and drink the wine as they are served; or all may eat, or drink, at the same time.
While the Session ordains elders and admits Communicants and appoints the time and place for worship, the Lord's Supper is not specifically an act of the Session, which need not be constituted before the service. However, it is customary for the elders to meet with the minister for prayer, and for the allocation of duties with regard to the service.
THE LORD'S SUPPER
The Hearing of the Word
The Preaching of the Word
The Response to the Word of God
The Lord's Supper -
The Invitation - (Matthew 11:28, John 6:35-37) The Warrant - (1 Corinthians 11:23-29) Taking of the elements (setting apart of the elements) Thanksgiving and Lord's prayer Breaking The Sharing Thanksgiving
The Close - dismissal and benediction
THE SERVICE IN OUTLINE
THE PREPARATION OR APPROACH TO GOD
Call to Worship or Scripture Sentences
Psalm or Hymn of Praise
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
Assurance of Pardon
Psalm or Hymn
THE WORD OF GOD
Old Testament Reading
Psalm or Hymn
New Testament Reading
Prayer for understanding of the preached Word.
The proclamation of the Word of God
Confession of Faith (Apostles' or Nicene Creed)
Prayers of Intercession
Prayer of Dedication
THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
The Invitation to the Lord's Table
Communion Psalm or Hymn
The words of institution
Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord's Supper
The sharing of the bread and wine
Prayers of Thanksgiving
Psalm or Hymn