The Book of Common Prayer takes seriously the warnings of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 about the significance of sharing in the Lord's Supper together and being properly prepared. It provides two long exhortations to be used on the Sunday before there is to be a celebration of the Holy Communion, a long exhortation to be used at the time of the celebration (1.1 and 1.2 are shortened, modern forms of this), and a short exhortation leading immediately to the General Confession of sins (1.3 is a modern form of this). Such exhortations may seem out of character with the style of communication in many of our services today. However, three simple attempts to convey the essence of these warnings are included below (1.4 -1.6). At the very least, a brief explanation of biblical teaching on the Lord's Supper and a challenge to participate meaningfully needs to be given on a regular basis. Even a few well-chosen Scripture verses could mark the transition from the ministry of the Word and Prayer to the Lord's Supper and alert the congregation to the need to prepare themselves appropriately.

 

1.1 Brothers and sisters in Christ, we who come to receive the holy communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ can come only because of his great love for us. For, although we are completely undeserving of his love, yet in order to raise us from the darkness of death to everlasting life as God's sons and daughters, our Saviour Christ humbled himself to share our life and to die for us on the cross. In remembrance of his death, and as a pledge of his love, he has instituted this holy sacrament which we are now to share. But those who would eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord must examine themselves, and amend their lives. They must come with a penitent heart and steadfast faith. Above all they must give thanks to God for his love towards us in Christ Jesus.

An Australian Prayer Book

1.2 Brothers and sisters in Christ, we who would come to the holy communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ must consider how St. Paul exhorts us to examine ourselves 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 Saviour. Amend your lives and love your neighbour. Above all, give hearty thanks to God for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, truly God and truly human, who humbled himself to death on the cross for us sinners, that he might make us children of God, and raise us to eternal life.

A Prayer Book for Australia

1.3 You (then) who truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God and walking in his holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to strengthen and comfort you. But first, let us make a humble confession of our sins to Almighty God.

An Australian Prayer Book

1.4 You who are truly sorry for your sins, reconciled with others, and determined to lead the new life of joyful obedience to God, draw near with faith and share in this holy sacrament to strengthen and sustain you. But first, let us confess our sins to the Lord our God.

Sunday Services

1.5 When we share the cup of the Lord and break bread together, we express our common participation in the benefits of Jesus' death for us. So we should examine ourselves before we eat the bread and drink the cup, confessing our sins to God, acknowledging the need to care for one another, and renewing our trust in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.

Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

1.6 Since Jesus has opened a new and living way into God's presence for us, by the shedding of his own blood, let us draw near to God with sincerity and faith, assured in our consciences of his cleansing from sin. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds.

Cf. Hebrews 10:19-24

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