(One of the goals of Brothers of John the Steadfast is to train the Brothers in good practice and theology. This article is one in a series that teaches about the liturgy.
These articles were initially intended to be put into bulletins or read during the service to educate the laity on the different parts of the service. They were therefore purposefully made short.
Notes on the Liturgy #19 — Communion & the Peace
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper the night He was betrayed. The Lord’s Supper is the “blood of the covenant.” It is Jesus’ promise and assurance to us that we are partakers of His grace. Each time it is offered the pastor reads the words of institution. In these words Jesus speaks to us and informs us that we are receiving His body and blood in the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sin. Different churches have different customs how often the Lord’s Supper is offered. The early church celebrated it every Sunday. Communion was the center of worship for they understood the church is bound together in one body as we all partake of the one loaf (I Cor 10:17).
Communion’s first purpose is a meal of forgiveness. God is doing this for us. The above verse also shows us that it is a meal of unity. Thus the things that strike against unity of the church also strike against the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. If we needlessly, sinfully stir up dissension in the church among Christian brothers and sisters we are actually sinning against the body and blood of Christ. Even more importantly, when someone holds to false doctrine or unites themselves with a church body that teaches error this too works against one of the purposes of the Lord’s Supper. For this reason we practice closed Communion.
After the words of institution, the pastor gives the Peace, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” Some pastors may have the custom of raising the elements up into the air to clearly show that our peace with God comes through Christ’s work and Christ’s meal. The people of God respond with the simple confession, “Amen.” “Yes, yes, it shall be so” – this meal does indeed bring this promised peace.
Previous Notes on the Liturgy —
Introit, Psalm or Hymn
Kyrie and Gloria
Alleluia Verse and other responses
The Hymn and Hymns
Preface and Proper Preface
Pre-Communion Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
Communion & the Peace
Post Communion Canticle & Collect
You may find all these by looking at our Regular Column on the Explanation of the Divine Service category or by using the shortcut https://steadfastlutherans.org/liturgy.
These notes were originally written in 2001 by Pastor David Oberdieck and have been edited. Thanks to Pastor Michael Mohr for improvements to this segment.