Abbey Presbyterian Church, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1, Co. Dublin, Ireland | t: : 00353 (1) 8378600, e: [email protected]

COMMUNION

Unlike the Sacrament of Baptism, the Sacrament of Communion is regularly and repeatedly administered. Like Baptism, Communion is God’s gift to and for the Church, so we want to honour both the gift and the Giver in our practice.

What Communion is

On the night in which Jesus was betrayed he gathered his disciples to observe the Jewish Passover. This annual festival has long reminded the Jews of their origins in and relationship to God, and prepared them to be God’s special witness in and for the world. It especially harks back to their time of slavery in Egypt and the powerful manner in which God delivered them from slavery so that they could worship Him freely in a free land. Jesus took this up and redefined it in relation to Himself. He taught the disciples that the bread and the wine would from now on remind people of his broken body and shed blood on the cross for the world. By His institution, example and command they were to remember this sacrifice (a Memorial), celebrate this deliverance (a Eucharist), feed upon Him by faith (a Meal), and anticipate His return (a Hope). As we do this, we strengthen our communion with God, with one another and with the world.

Who can receive Communion

We usually celebrate Holy Communion (Lord’s Supper/ Eucharist) five times a year. Our standard practice is: first Sunday in January, October and December, last Sunday in June and on Easter Sunday. Everyone who loves Jesus as their Saviour and Lord is invited to join us, regardless of the particular branch of the Christian Church from which they come.

Requesting to become a Communicant

We also welcome any enquiries in respect of the Sacrament; especially from those who are considering coming for the first time (sometimes referred to as ‘Confirmation’). We do not have a set age for ‘Confirmation’ as we do not regard this as a rite of passage or a coming of age; instead we conduct a preparation course to anyone regardless of age. Please contact the Minister for further information.

Preparing for First Communion

When we do something only once or very rarely we are likely to take it seriously and treasure it. When we do something repeatedly and habitually we can quickly become careless and negligent. That is why we encourage people to prepare themselves each time for Communion. For some Presbyterians this means attending pre-Communion services in the week or weeks leading up to Communion (known as ‘The Communion Season’), for us at Abbey it has largely taken the form of private reflection beforehand. We are mindful that improvements can and should be made and that as our Cell Groups develop they will provide a natural and appropriate forum for deeper preparation. Until then we offer some pointers in personal preparation:

  • Have I really been trying to live so as to please my Lord?
  • Have I been doing all I could to keep near to Him?
  • Have I prayed with regularity and sincerity, or have my prayers been merely formal, or have I given up real prayer altogether?
  • Have I been doing anything which I now to be sinful?
  • Have I tried honestly to turn my mind away from forbidden thoughts and feelings?
  • Have I tried to do any definite thing for Jesus’ sake?

Preparing for Communion

Before going to Communion repent of your sin, make reparation where appropriate and  make an offering of yourself to Jesus:

O Lord Jesus, help me to love you better than I have done; help me to be more obedient to your voice within me; help me to serve you in some definite way; help me to deny myself, and take up my cross daily, and follow you. I present myself a living sacrifice to you who died for me. Amen.

The Communion Service

The Communion Service normally takes place as a Sunday Celebration and is the climax of the Celebration. The liturgy explains what is about to happen and invites God to set apart the bread, the wine and the worshippers for this special moment and purpose. Even though we reject the notion that the bread and wine are turned into the actual body and blood of Christ at consecration, we do believe that God is especially present to comfort and bless His people when they lovingly and faithfully obey His command.  Following Bible readings and prayers the bread and wine are usually brought down to the worshippers by the Elders (occasionally the worshippers will be invited to come forward to receive the bread and wine). We encourage people to remain throughout the service even if they choose not to partake of the Sacrament. Once the worshippers have received the bread and wine, the Elders also receive and the Minister concludes the service. In keeping with our tradition the ritual is marked by simplicity.