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Preparatory Exhortation
Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, listen to the words of the institution of the holy supper of our Lord as they have been handed down by the apostle Paul:
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Cor. 11:23-29).

In obedience to these words and in fellowship with the church universal we shall commemorate the death of our Savior in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper on the coming Lord's Day. (Or: we now commemorate the death of our Savior in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.) However, to do so to our comfort, we must first examine ourselves, as the apostle has admonished.

Let all of us, therefore, consider our sin and guilt. God's anger against sin is so great that he has punished it in his beloved Son with the bitter and shameful death of the cross; and let us examine whether our hearts accordingly are filled with that "godly grief" which "produces a repentance that leads to salvation."

Let us also search our hearts to see whether we truly believe in Jesus Christ as our only Savior, and accept God's gracious promise that for the sake of the passion and death of Christ all our sins are now forgiven and we are clothed with the perfect righteousness of the Son of God. Finally, let us examine our consciences to see whether we resolve sincerely and gratefully to serve Jesus Christ as Lord and to live by his commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . and . . . your neighbor as yourself."

As we thus examine ourselves, let us be assured that God will certainly receive in grace and welcome to the table of his Son all those who repent and walk in faith.

However, the Lord admonishes those who do not believe or have not repented to abstain from the holy supper so as not to eat and drink judgment on themselves. Therefore we also charge those who willfully continue in their sins to keep themselves from the table of the Lord *(such as all who trust in any form of superstition; all who honor images or pray to saints; all who despise God's Word or the holy sacraments; all who take God's name in vain; all who violate the sanctity of the Lord's Day; all who are disobedient to those in authority over them; all drunkards, gamblers, murderers, thieves, adulterers, liars, and unchaste persons). To all such we say in the name of the Lord that as long as they remain unrepentant and unbelieving, they have no part in the kingdom of God.

However, this solemn warning is not intended, beloved in the Lord, to discourage the contrite believer, for we do not come to this supper claiming any merit in ourselves. On the contrary, we come testifying that we seek our salvation apart from ourselves in Jesus Christ. By this testimony we humbly confess that we are full of sin and worthy of death. By this testimony we also confess that we believe the sure promise of God: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). This promise assures us that no sin or weakness which still remains in us against our will can hinder us from being received by God in grace at his table as worthy partakers of this holy food and drink.

*Thus assured, let us at the appointed hour come with quiet conscience and fullness of faith to keep this sacramental feast which our Lord appointed to be a continual memorial of his atoning death until he comes again.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our Father, by whose law all are tried and by whose gospel we have hope, we your servants look to you for help in examining ourselves.

In your grace you invite us to the table of your Son. We confess that we have sinned. Have compassion on us in our weakness. Enable us in the light of your holy Word to read the secrets of our own hearts and to recognize the fruits of your work of grace within. Strengthen us by your Holy Spirit so that we may obediently respond to your call in sincere repentance and true faith.

Graciously remove whatever in us might keep us from your table. Let no love of sin or untruth, no pride or lust, no hatred or envy toward our neighbor, no remnant of unbelief remain within us to keep us from responding gladly. By your Spirit assemble us at the appointed hour to commemorate in an unbroken bond of Christian fellowship the atoning death of our Savior.

Hear us, we pray, in the name of our ever-living intercessor, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, belong all praise and glory. Amen. 

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the night in which he was delivered up to be crucified, the Lord Jesus instituted the sacrament of holy communion, saying, "Do this in remembrance of me." In obedience to that command we now celebrate this memorial feast. We therefore invite all of you who have confessed your Lord, and who have truly examined yourselves as the apostle Paul commanded, to come in repentance and in assurance of faith to commune with Christ in this holy supper.*

As we now draw near, let us acknowledge that the Lord has instituted his supper so that by it we may remember him and he may nourish and refresh us for eternal life. To observe this holy supper in remembrance of him is to proclaim our Lord's death until he comes again. In partaking of this supper, therefore, we remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior promised to the fathers in the Old Testament; that he is the eternal and only begotten Son of God; that he assumed our human nature, in which he fulfilled for us all obedience and the righteousness of God's law; and that he bore for us the wrath of God under which we should have perished forever. We remember that he was bound that we might be loosed from our sins; that he was innocently condemned to death that we might be acquitted at the judgment seat of God; that he became a curse for us to fill us with his blessing; and that he humbled himself on the cross to hell's deep agony--which wrung from him the cry, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"--that God might never forsake us. We remember also that he was buried to sanctify the grave for us, that he was raised for our justification, that he is exalted at God's right hand, and that he will come again to judge the living and the dead. And we remember that the shedding of his blood has confirmed for us the new and eternal testament, the covenant of grace.

Through this supper Jesus Christ assures us that he will truly nourish and refresh us with his crucified body and shed blood to everlasting life. He promises this in the institution to this supper, saying of the bread, "This is my body"; and of the wine, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:26ff.). With these words our Lord directs our faith to his perfect sacrifice, once offered on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation. He also assures us that by his death he has taken away our sin, the cause of our eternal death, and has obtained for us the life-giving Spirit. By this Spirit, who dwells in Christ as in the head and in us as his members, he brings us into true communion with himself and makes us partakers of all his riches, of eternal life, righteousness, and glory. By this same Spirit, he causes us, together with all true believers, to be united as members of one body. As the holy apostle says, "We, who are many, are one body for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Cor. 10:17) And as it is said to us, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Cor. 11:26), we are assured by this holy supper that our Lord Jesus will come again to receive us to himself and that we shall sit down with him and drink with him the fruit of the vine in the newness of our Father's kingdom (Matt. 26:29).

Let us pray.

Merciful God and Father, whose grace abounds beyond all our sins, we pray that in this supper, in which we commemorate the death of your dear Son, you will so work in our hearts, that we may yield ourselves ever more fully to Jesus Christ. May our contrite hearts, through the power of the Holy Spirit, be nourished and refreshed with his body and blood, with him, true God and man, the only heavenly bread, so that we may no longer live in our sins, but he in us, and we in him.

Confirm in us the covenant of grace, we pray, so that we may not doubt that you will forever be our gracious Father, no more imputing our sins to us and abundantly providing us with all things necessary for body and soul as your dear children and heirs.

Grant us your grace that we may cheerfully take up our cross, deny ourselves, confess our Savior, and in all temptations and trials expect our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, who at his coming will make our mortal bodies like his glorified body and take us to himself in eternity.

Answer us, O God and merciful Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, belong all praise and adoration now and evermore. Amen.

[While the table is being prepared an appropriate hymn may be sung.]

As we now come to the table of the Lord, let us with heart and mouth confess our catholic, undoubted Christian faith:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son,
our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again
from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge
the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

That we may be nourished with Christ, the true bread from heaven, let us lift up our hearts to Christ Jesus, our advocate, at the right hand of his heavenly Father. Let us firmly believe all his promises, not doubting that as surely as we receive the bread and wine in remembrance of him we shall be nourished and refreshed with his body and blood through the working of the Holy Spirit.

[In breaking and serving the bread, the minister shall say]:

The bread which we break is a communion of the body of Christ. Take, eat, remember, and believe that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete forgiveness of all our sins.

[In serving the cup the minister shall say]:

The cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks is a communion of the blood of Christ. Take, drink, remember, and believe that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for the complete forgiveness of all our sins.

[While the elements are being distributed, the minister may read fitting passages from Scripture, or a hymn may be sung] .

[After the communion the minister shall say]:

Beloved in the Lord, since the Lord has now nourished our souls at his table, let us jointly praise his holy name with thanksgiving.

Sing together Psalm 103 or say in unison:

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy
name. Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases;
he redeems my life from the pit
and crowns me with love and
compassion. The Lord is compassionate and
gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins
deserve or repay us according to our
iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above
the earth, so great is his love for those who fear
him; as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our
transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his
children, so the Lord has compassion on
those who fear him. Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly
hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, O my soul. (Ps. 103:1-4, 8-13, 20-22)

"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Rev. 5:13)

Let us pray:

O merciful God and Father, we thank you with all our hearts that in your boundless grace you have given us your only begotten Son as a mediator and a sacrifice for our sins and as our food and drink unto life eternal. We thank you too for giving us the true faith through which we can partake of your benefits. And since your Son Jesus Christ ordained the holy supper to strengthen our faith, we pray that through your Holy Spirit, this supper may increase our faith and enrich our fellowship with Christ. May you also use this proclamation of our Lord's death and resurrection to bring others into this blessed fellowship, so that all your children may be gathered in to share with us the joy of your salvation. Hear us, Heavenly Father, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

*The reading of the parenthetical list of gross sins is optional.

*Those who wish to use this form as a single formulary for the celebration of the Lord's supper may do so by omitting the paragraphs beginning and ending with *.

Prepared in response to a mandate from the Synod of 1957, this form was finally adopted in 1964. It is in part a translation of the 1566 Dutch form based in turn on earlier Reformed sources. There are both additions to and omissions from the original Dutch material. This form was the first in CRC liturgy to distinguish the preparatory exhortation from the communion formulary.