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Who Comes to the Table - 1 Corinthians 10, HCLD 30

The sixth service plan in a Pentecost series. Last week's service included preparation to come to the Table; this week's service includes the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

The Church

This series of worship services explores the nature and the life of the Christian Church as the place where faith is fed and nurtured.

Theme of the Service

Last week we prepared to come to the Table; this week's service includes the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The sermon will address the requirements that are necessary for faithful participation in the sacrament. Note: Many churches and fellowships are currently discussing the issue of whether baptized children, by virtue of their baptism, should participate in the Lord's Supper. We leave it to your local congregation to implement the practice of your tradition.

* * * * *


Prelude: "I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord" [see music notes]
and/or: "As We Gather at Your Table"

The Call to Worship [see liturgy notes]

*Song of Praise: "I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord" PH 507:1-2, PsH 311: 1-2, RL 534:1-2, RN 195:1-2, SFL 64:1-2, TWC 768: 1-2, UMH 617:1-2

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, who do you trust?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Response: "I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord" PH 507:3-4, PsH 311:3-4, RL 534:3, RN 195:3, SFL 64:3, TWC 768:3-4, UMH 617:3-4


The Call to Confession

The Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of Pardon

*Our Song of Devotion: "I Love the Lord" PH 362, SNC 227

*Our Passing of the Peace

The Children's Moment [see liturgy notes]


*Song of Preparation: "As We Gather at Your Table" SNC 245

The Prayer for Illumination

Reading our Confession of Faith [see liturgy notes]

The Readings from Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 and 11:17-34
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Who Comes to the Table?

The Prayers of the People

*Our Affirmation of Faith [see liturgy notes]


Anthem: "Taste and See," Francis Patrick O'Brien [see music notes]

*Song of Faith: "Let Us Break Bread Together" PH 513, PsH 304, RL 304, RL 545, TWC 776 [see music notes]

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper [see liturgy notes]
Declaration of God's Invitation and Promises
The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Preparing the Bread and Cup
Response of Praise and Prayer

The Offertory Prayer
The Offering of Music: "Let Us Break Bread Together" [see music notes]
or: "What Wondrous Love"
We offer our gifts for..


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "What Wondrous Love" PH 85, PsH 379, RN 277, SFL 169, TH 261, TWC 212, UMH 292 [see music notes]

Postlude: "What Wondrous Love" [see music notes]

* - You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes

Christians have a variety of attitudes about coming the Lord's Table. Some are extremely hesitant, assuming only a select few are "holy enough" to come. Others are very casual and have no hesitancy coming without much thought. Some are double-minded, as Paul points out, and willing to drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (see 1 Corinthians 10:21).

This discussion of who comes to the table sometimes focuses on the formal requirements: may all baptized persons come, or is a profession of personal faith necessary first? Is the Lord's Supper nourishment for believers, or does it teach belief? The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians and the confessional statements from the Heidelberg Catechism and Belgic Confession will help clarify some of these issues and lead worshiper to the table.

In the two passages from 1 Corinthians, we find five concepts that are worthy of attention:

  • "participation" (NIV) or "sharing" (NRSV) in 10:16. This word refers to a deep personal bond between the two parties. It is our word for "fellowship" or "koinonia" and assumes a union of the believer and Christ who meet at this table.
  • "proclaim" in 11:26. It's the same word used elsewhere that is often translated "preach." When we come to table, we make a public statement about our identity with Christ.
  • "unworthy manner" in 11:27. Paul warns that our state of heart as we come to the Lord's Table must be taken seriously, for there are very inappropriate ways to participate that bring God's displeasure upon us. It is possible to "eat and drink judgment on ourselves." (See the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 82 and Belgic Confession, art. 35.)
  • "examine yourselves" in 11:28. Each communicant bears responsibility for careful and thoughtful self-examination. The assumption is that adequate preparation must be made and that we may possibly not be able to commune.
  • "discern" (NRSV) or "recognize" (NIV) in 11:29. For the Corinthians and communicants today it means to clear away the clutter and see clearly that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are the only way for our salvation. We declare our dependence on Christ's work.

The statements from the Heidelberg Catechism and Belgic Confession set before us three very important characteristics of those who come to the Lord's Supper.

  • They are conscious of their sinfulness. Our coming is not a declaration of our success in Christian living, but rather an admission of our constant need of grace.
  • They are people who trust. We trust the finished work of Jesus Christ, the pardon of our sinfulness through his work, and that even our continued weaknesses are covered in the grace of God in Christ.
  • They desire to lead a better life. Their eagerness to serve Christ and grow in discipleship causes them to make their time at the Table a time for new commitments to thankful obedience.

Music Notes
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Most of the music within this service is representative of North American folk and spiritual traditions.
The suggestions for prelude are based on two Appalachian tunes.

LAND OF REST ["I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord"]
Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-6140 [1992] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. O Worship the King. Broadman 4570-42 [1979] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Seven Settings of American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-5829 [1984] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Variations on Jerusalem, My Happy Home. Morningstar MSM-10-807 [1996]
Sedio, Mark. Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ. Augsburg 11-10718 [1996] (E-M)
Stearns, Peter Pindar. Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use. Flammer HF-5145 [1987] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Seven Folk Tune Sketches. H. W. Grey. GB 357 [1966] (E-M)

PLEADING SAVIOR ["As We Gather at Your Table"]
Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments, set 1. Morningstar
MSM-10-847 [1992] (M)
Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-6140 [1992] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Be Present Now. Morningstar MSM-10-566 [2004] (E-M)
Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H. W. Grey. GB643 [1978] (E)

Alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn are as follows:

LAND OF REST ["I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord"]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

The anthem "Taste and See" by Francis Patrick O'Brien can be sung by a choir or ensemble of any size or with the congregation joining in the reprintable refrain. It is published by GIA G-3775 (E-M).

An alternative harmonizations for the song of faith can be found in:

BREAK BREAD TOGETHER ["Let Us Break Bread Together"]
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Hampton, Keith. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Suggestions for offertory music and postlude can be found in the following resources:

BREAK BREAD TOGETHER ["Let Us Break Bread Together"]
Bristol, Lee Hastings Jr. The Bristol Collection, vol. 2. Flammer HF-5078 [1975] (E-M, an
interesting combination of "Let Us Break Bread Together" and "Now Thank We All Our God")
Jordan, Alice. A Season and A Time. Broadman 4570-37 [1977] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 3. Augsburg 11-9320 [1974] (E-M)

WONDROUS LOVE ["What Wondrous Love"]
Barber, Samuel. Wondrous Love. Schirmer 44477 [1959] (M-D)
Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-6140 [1992] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
Johnson, David N. Hymns Settings for Organ. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7498-7 [2002]
Johnson, David N. Wondrous Love. Augsburg 11-0821 [1965] (E)
Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M)
Middleswarth, Jean E. Were You There. Broadman 4570-64 (POP) [1984] (E-M)
Phillips, Don. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (ed. Lyon, Sharron) Broadman 4570-31 [1976]
Young, Gordon. Preludes on the Familiar. Fischer 0 4886 [1972] (E-M)

Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)
Carter, John. The Wondrous Cross. Hope 1747 [1994] (E-M)
Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns.Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (M)

Larson, Lloyd. What Wondrous Love. Beckenhorst HB 150 [1994] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
Wagner, Douglas E. What Wondrous Love. Agape 1312 [1988] (3-5 octaves, E-M)

Alternative harmonizations on WONDROUS LOVE can be found in:

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Liturgy Notes

1. The Call to Worship should include personal words from the pastor that point to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, express a welcome, and create an atmosphere of welcome and hospitality.

2. The Children's Moment is placed immediately after the Service of Renewal to give opportunity to explain the Lord's Table and the sacrament to the children. We have confessed our sin, received God's pardon, and exchange the Peace of Christ with each other; we are now eager to celebrate this gift at the Lord's Table.

3. We include here the text of both the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession of Faith that speak to this subject. These words may be included either before the Scripture Reading or after the sermon as an Affirmation of Faith, or sections in both places. We trust these are helpful for understanding what the church has said about this sacrament as well as a tool for making our corporate affirmations of faith. Again, the passages tend to be quite lengthy, and you will perhaps want to include only sections of them for your use in the liturgy. However, these provide excellent opportunity for worshipers to take on their lips the historic words of confession.
To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

The Heidelberg Catechism 30, Q&A 81-82

Who are to come to the Lord's table?
Those who are displeased with themselves
because of their sins,
but who nevertheless trust
that their sins are pardoned
and that their continuing weakness is covered
by the suffering and death of Christ,
and who also desire more and more
to strengthen their faith
and to lead a better life.
Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however,
eat and drink judgment on themselves.
Are those to be admitted to the Lord's Supper
who show by what they say and do
that they are unbelieving and ungodly?
No, that would dishonor God's covenant
and bring down God's anger upon the entire congregation.
Therefore, according to the instruction of Christ and his apostles,
the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people,
by the official use of the keys of the kingdom,
until they reform their lives.

The Belgic Confession of Faith, art. 35

For whom is the Lord's Supper intended?
We believe and confess
that our Savior Jesus Christ
has ordained and instituted the sacrament of the Holy Supper
to nourish and sustain those
who are already born again and engrafted
into his family: his church.
How should we approach the Lord's Table?
With humility and reverence
we receive the holy sacrament
in the gathering of God's people,
as we engage together,
with thanksgiving,
in a holy remembrance of the death of Christ our Savior,
and as we thus confess our faith and Christian religion.
Therefore, no one should come to this table
without examining himself carefully,
lest "by eating this bread and drinking this cup
he eat and drink to his own judgment."

4. We have given a model liturgy for the Lord's Supper as found in The Worship Sourcebook (pp. 308-309). You will find excellent teaching material about the Lord's Supper and many additional resources in The Worship Sourcebook.