The Observance of the Lord’s Supper

The Moravian Church has repeatedly affirmed the position that it is neither possible to define the exact relationship of the elements used to the presence of our Lord’s body and blood, nor profitable to do so. We affirm that Christ is present in the sacrament and meets us there, but we do not define precisely how this occurs. Each member may benefit from Holy Communion by meditating upon the words our Lord used in instituting this sacrament.

How is Holy Communion administered in a Moravian church?

The Order of Service for Holy Communion:

• Salutation

• Hymn with Right Hand of Fellowship

• Prayer of thanksgiving

• Consecration of the Bread

• Distribution of the Bread (as hymns are sung)

• Partaking of the Bread together

• Silent Prayer and concluding response

• Consecration of the Wine

• Distribution of the Wine (as hymns are sung)

• Partaking of the Wine together

• Silent prayer and concluding response

• Hymn

• Response

• Hymn with Right Hand of Fellowship

• Benediction and response

During the Right Hand of Fellowship, a handclasp is extended by the communicant to his or her neighbors. As the distribution of the bread begins, all are seated except those in the first group of pews or seats. These stand until each communicant has been served, and they are then seated. As the elements are brought to the next group of pews or seats, its occupants stand and are served, and so it continues until the entire congregation has been served.

The bread is received with the open palm held upward. If a person does not desire to commune, the person remains seated. Rising again at the words, “Our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you,’” each communicant eats the bread and remains standing for silent prayer.

The same procedure is followed in serving the cup. Most Moravian congregations use individual cups, rather than a chalice. Many congregations use grape juice rather than wine. Following the words, “Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me,” all communicants partake of the cup together, holding it through the silent prayer that follows, in order to avoid distracting noises. The cup may then be placed in a pew rack.

Hymns convey the particular theme of the service and are sung during the distribution of the bread and wine.

Why do we shake hands?

The first handclasp signifies oneness in Christ and the desire to be at peace with one another. The second handclasp signifies renewed dedication and unity of purpose in the service of Christ.

How should we use the periods of silent prayer?

• to commune silently with Christ;

• to thank God for the blessings and comfort of Christ’s life, sufferings, death, and resurrection;

• to make intercession for others;

• to resolve, by Christ’s help, to be more Christ-like and to “walk worthy of our high calling.”

Who may receive Communion in a Moravian church?

• Every communicant member of the congregation;

• members of other Christian churches;

• baptized children who desire to partake and have been prepared for communing through conversation with the pastor.

• The sick and shut-ins may receive communion privately upon request to the pastor.

What benefits does the worshipper receive?

Communion provides a means of appropriating God’s grace.

• It makes us aware of our sin.

• It makes the presence of Christ more real and effective in our lives.

• It brings spiritual strength and joy for daily living.

• It brings assurance of eternal life.

• It deepens the sense of fellowship or community with other believers.

How do we prepare for participation?

Before coming to the Holy Communion, we prepare ourselves through Bible reading, meditation, prayer, self-examination, and confession. The service before the Lord’s Supper usually includes confession of sins and assurance of pardon.

How often do we participate in this service?

Christians will want to participate in the Holy Communion at every opportunity as an expression of their life in Jesus Christ and with one another. Most congregations offer the Holy Communion six to eight times a year. Many congregations are moving toward more frequent observance.

From the brochure “The Observance of the Lord’s Supper,” 2010