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Suggested Guidelines for Administering the Lord’s Table

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General Considerations

The following material is to give ideas for comments when you are called upon to help in presiding over the Lord’s Table.

The Lord's Table is a time for reflective worship, a time which is:

    1. A Redeclaration and Testimony—A testimony of one’s faith in Christ portrayed by partaking of the elements.

    2. A Remembrance—An act of worship by which we are to remember and count on the worth and meaning of the person and work of our Lord as the source of our salvation both for this life (abundant life) and the life to come (eternal life).

    3. An expression of a Relationship—of harmony and oneness of mind in love, values, commitment, and vision that should exist in the body of Christ.

    4. But interwoven in all of this, it is to be a Fellowship—a koinonia, a real sharing and participation in the person and work of Christ. We do not mean by this that the Bread becomes the real body of Christ nor that the fruit of the vine becomes the real blood of Christ. What we do mean:

First, we are to be sharing in the reality of who and what Jesus Christ really means to us in all the fullness of His life and work on our behalf—righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; acceptance, significance, and ability to live for the Lord and others.

It is a time when we are, in a very special way, calling to mind what His person, death, present life, and coming again mean to us—reflecting also on how this has and should affect us.

This in no way means that the rest of the time we ignore what His life and death mean to us, but that we take this time as a special opportunity of worship for greater impact on our thinking and living.

Second, as a fellowship it is a sharing together with one another. It is a time when together, as we pass the elements, we are demonstrating our common faith, commitment, concerns, love, devotion to Christ and the ministry and life to which He has called us. When this is not the case, then something is wrong in our lives either individually or corporately.

Third, the observance of the Lord’s Table should also be a time for examination. It should be a time for personal examination and evaluation of our loves, aspirations, values, devotion, relationships, pursuits, and of our lives in general.

For this to be a real fellowship, a time when we really share together in the fellowship of our Lord, there needs to be honest examination and confession for “two cannot walk together unless they be agreed” (KJV, Amos 3:3)

Read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. This not only means that believers are not to partake of things that are pagan because of demonic associations, but it warns us against other forms of idolatry by which we may have fellowship with the world and thus be influenced by the world and its values, pursuits, and lifestyle. This too is a hindrance to our fellowship with the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 11:28-34 we see the real need for honest examination as a preparation for taking of the Lords supper. Each time we partake of the Lord’s Table, it is to be a time when we truly, following a time of honest-to-God examination and confession, evaluate and partake in the realities of the Savior.

Reflections from 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

Purposes and features as set forth by Paul:

    1. It is to Express he Christian Communities’ Relationship of Harmony in the Lord (11:17-22)

    2. It is to be done as a Remembrance of the Lord’s Person and Work (11:23-25)

    3. It is to be Done as a Remembrance of the Lord’s Person and Work (11:23-25)

    4. It is to be a Redeclaration of the Lord’s first and Second Comings (11:26)

    5. It has Restrictions and Perils (11:27-34)

Reflections from Luke 22

In the first verses of this chapter and in 22:31, we are reminded of Satan’s attempts to hinder the worship of God and our fellowship with the Lord and with one another. Satan is ever on the prowl seeking ways to get men to either reject the Savior, betray Him or become occupied with other things.

Regardless of this opposition, in verses 7 and following we are reminded of God’s commitment to provide for our fellowship with Him.

22:7 First, there was he Passover which for hundreds of years had spoken of Christ our passover who would be and now has been sacrificed for us, the innocent lamb of God dying for the guilty to bring them to God.

22:8-13 However, regardless of God’s provision, if we are to have meaningful fellowship with the Lord and really relate to what He means to us, there needs to be preparation.

The physical preparation for the Passover forms an illustration of our need to prepare our hearts, to set things in order, that we might properly appreciate, worship, and relate our lives to he Savior.

We need time to examine our concerns, values, priorities, devotion, commitments, sources of trust, use of our gifts, time, money, and so on.

22:14-20 Then, there was he observance of the Passover which was followed by the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

In Verse 14, we are reminded of who must lead us in worship and in our fellowship.

In verse 15, we see how the Lord deeply longs for our fellowship with Him because of His great love and grace. We need to compare John 13:1f. He was willing to die as the Lamb and take the position of a slave to wash our feet that we might be clean and have fellowship with Him.

In verses 16-17, we see the Savior’s expectation and our interim responsibility as His people in His absence—worship and sharing together of His life while both looking back to His death in our place and forward to His coming again for us.

In verses18-20, He instituted the communion or the Lord’s stable as we often call it, that which speaks of His person and work on the cross. Two symbolic elements (the Bread and Cup) and four symbolic acts (breaking, eating, pouring, and drinking).

Note in 22:24 that after the statement about the betrayal (vss 21-23) there is that which forms a warning for all of us. Instead of being prepared and occupied with the Savior and thinking about Him, they were distracted and concerned with themselves and their standing in the Christian community or the kingdom of God—occupied with their own wants and glory—self-centerdness.

Reflections from 1 Cor. 11:20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14-15

The Lord’s Table reminds us of a number of important things:

    1. Of our need to worship and focus on the Lord who is our life and our need to live by fellowship with the Him.

    2. Of the constant threat to be distracted and drawn away from Him even in the mist of religious activity and instead to be occupied with our own self-centeredness (Lk. 22:24f).

    3. Of our privilege to hare with one another in and of the things of the Savior. We are co-laborers and fellow partners in the things of Christ.

    4. Of our need to live sacrificially in the light of His life and death as servants of the Lord (2 or 5:14-15).

Basic Procedures

Introductory Comments

Suggested comments and preparation by the presiding elder or pastor in charge:

Invitation: “We would like to invite all who truly know Christ as their personal Savior to partake together in the Lord’s Table.”

Restriction: “The only restriction is that of 1 Corinthians 11:28, that we first examine ourselves for the purpose of confessing any area of known sin that we might each be able to truly respond to the significance and meaning of this very meaningful ordinance.”

Participation: “We ask you to hold the elements until all have been served so we may partake of the elements as one to express our unity in Christ.”

Significance: Review the key elements of the Lord’s Table. In a nutshell, this ordinance teaches the following truths that should be shared as a reminder of the importance and meaning of the Lord’s Table.

    1. It portrays the person and work of Christ and His presence in our midst to minister His life to us.

    a.
    In the Bread we see Christ as the Bread come down from heaven, the perfect God-man, God’s gift to solve our sin problem.

    b.
    In the Cup we see Christ as the Lamb of God who came as the God-man to die for our sins.

    2. Partaking of the elements portrays our faith in Jesus Christ and our commitment to continue to live by fellowship with Him—continuing to be nourished by His life.

    3. The Bread, which starts out as one loaf, should portray our unity and oneness of mind and heart as fellow believers in Christ. (1 Cor. 10:17).

    4. Passing the Bread and Cup portrays our need to minister Christ to one another, and share together in His life.

Examination: Pause for a time of silent meditation for personal examination and confession of known sins in the life in preparation (1 Cor. 11:28-31; 1 Jn. 1:9).

Men come forward: The elder in charge now invites the men who are helping serve to come forward. (They should be seated on a front pew while those leading can make further comment, pray and read Scripture.)

Two men presiding: Two other elders may help preside over serving the Bread and another the Cup.

Sharing the Bread

The elder in charge of the Bread should make a few comments.

    1. He may want to make comments concerning the significance of the Bread, read from a passage like 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 and then pray.

    2. He then will distribute the plates with the Bread to the men who will serve the people. The men serving should stand up when he turns to get the plates from the table so they will be standing when he gives them the plates. Unless he is needed to help pass the plates, he should stay up front.

    3. The men will then serve the people, return, and hand the plates to the person presiding over the Bread, and sit down in the front pew.

    4. The person presiding over the Bread will put all the plate(s) down except one, and will serve the other men, the person presiding, and then takes of the Bread himself.

    5. After placing the plate on the table, he will turn and face the congregation and invite everyone to partake of the Bread together by saying something like, “do this in remembrance of Him.”

Sharing the Cup

The above sequence is repeated by the person presiding over the Cup.

Closing

Closing comments: One of the elders will then need to make a few final comments on the Lord’s Supper in connection with 1 Corinthians 11:26 or something similar.

Conclude with Song: This portion of the service may be concluded by singing an appropriate hymn. The person leading the song should have the hymn selected prior to the service and make sure the instrumentalist is informed and has the music.

Related Topics: Communion