Communion Liturgy on the Belgic Confession
Rochester Christian Reformed Church, New York, crafts its own Lord’s Supper litanies to help connect the theme of the service or the season of the Christian year with the sacrament. This is the first of several litanies they will be sharing with RW readers. It is based on the sacramental sections of the Belgic Confession, one of the confessions held by many Reformed denominations.
Our good God, mindful of our weakness, ordained sacred rituals for us. In these sacraments God seals his promises in us, pledges his good will and grace toward us, and nourishes and sustains us in our faith. God has added these sacred rituals to the Word of the gospel to better represent to our external senses what he does inwardly in our hearts. In this way, we more clearly understand his Word and the salvation he imparts to us.
The sacraments are a visible sign and seal of something internal and invisible. In them, God works in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Supper is neither a hollow ritual nor an empty sign, but the expression of the truth in Jesus Christ.
We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ has instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper to nourish and sustain those who are born again and grafted into his family, the church.
Now, those who are born again have two lives. The one is physical and temporal—they have it from the moment of their first birth; it is common to all. The other is spiritual and heavenly—it is given to them in their second birth; it comes through the Word of the gospel in the communion of the body of Christ. To support the physical and earthly life, God has prescribed for us earthly and material bread that is common to all. But to maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to believers, God has sent a living bread that came down from heaven: namely, Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven. I am the bread of life.”
Jesus Christ nourishes and maintains the spiritual life of all believers. We receive him in faith as the bread of heaven. We are spiritually fed when we eat the bread of his table.
Sing: “Gift of Finest Wheat,” refrain PH 521, PsH 300, WR 705
Jesus Christ instituted an earthly and visible bread in order to represent to us spiritual and heavenly bread. This bread is the sacrament of his body. The juice of the cup is the sacrament of his blood. Just as we take and hold the sacraments in our hands and eat and drink it in our mouths, so we truly receive nourishment and sustenance for our spiritual life. This is the true body and true blood of Christ, our only Savior. We receive these by faith, which is the hand and mouth of our souls.
We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.
This banquet is a spiritual table at which Jesus Christ communicates himself to us with all his benefits. We enjoy his presence. We receive the merits of his suffering and death. He nourishes, strengthens, and comforts us by the eating of his body. He relieves and renews us by the drinking of his blood.
Sing: “Gift of Finest Wheat,” refrain
Let us pray: With humility and reverence, we receive the Holy Supper in the gathering of God’s people.
We join together in thanksgiving. We remember the death of Christ our Savior. We confess our faith in him. By participation in this Holy Supper, we are moved to a fervent love of both God and our neighbors. Amen.
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took a loaf of bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after supper saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
[passing of the bread]
The bread which we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
We who are many are one body, for we all partake of the same bread.
[partaking of the bread]
[passing of the cup]
The cup of blessing for which we give thanks, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
We who are many are one blood, for we all drink of the same cup.
[partaking of the cup]
Hymn of Celebration: “Praise the Lord, Rise Up Rejoicing”