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The Lord's Supper
The Reformed tradition seeks to maintain a biblical balance between those who see the sacraments as merely symbolic and those who tend to view them as merely realistic. We believe that the Sacraments--Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (or Communion)--are symbols through which God works in reality in our hearts and in our community.
We believe that the Lord’s Supper (Communion or the Eucharist) signifies our union with Christ in his sacrificial death and resurrection life, that Christ is truly and really present in every celebration of Communion, and that those who receive the sacrament in faith actually grow deeper in their union with Christ. As John Calvin was fond of saying, we become more and more “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.”
In summary, we believe that in the holy sacraments, we receive in reality what is signified in the symbols. The sacraments are symbolic, but not merely symbolic.
How can I prepare for Communion?
Here are some questions and answers from the Westminster Confession of Faith Larger Catechism that may help in preparing for Communion:
What if I have doubts about my faith?
One who doubts of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God's account has it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labor to have his doubts resolved; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord's Supper, that he may be further strengthened. (Westminster Larger Catechism 172)
How should I receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?
It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord's body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fulness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints. (Westminster Larger Catechism 174)
After receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, what should I consider?
The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is seriously to consider: How they have behaved themselves therein, and with: What success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfil their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence. (Westminster Larger Catechism 175)