“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29
Lutherans take the sacrament of Holy Communion seriously. We believe that the bread and wine remains physically bread and wine, however, Jesus is present “in, with and under” the physical elements. Participants should examine themselves to be sure they rightly understand and appreciate the great gift being received. Of course, many might say, “what does it mean to examine oneself? How do I do that?” In our congregation, the Pastor reads what is called an “Exhortation” before we commune which explains this. I thought it might be helpful to non-Lutherans and Lutherans alike to print it here.
Dear friends in Christ! In order that you may receive this holy Sacrament in a worthy manner, it is necessary that you carefully consider what you must now believe and do. From the words of Christ,
“This is My body, which is given for you;” “This is My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
You should believe that Jesus Christ is Himself present with His Body and Blood, as the words declare. From Christ’s words, “For the forgiveness of sins,” you should in the next place, believe that Jesus Christ bestows upon you His Body and Blood to confirm to you the forgiveness of all your sins. And finally, you should do as Christ commands you when He says,
“Take, eat;” “Drink of it all of you;” and “This do in remembrance of me.”
If you believe these words of Christ, and do as He has commanded, then you have properly examined yourselves and may rightly eat Christ’s Body and drink His Blood for the forgiveness of your sins.
You should, also, unite in giving thanks to Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for so great a gift, and should love one another with a pure heart, and thus, with the whole Christian Church, have comfort and joy in Christ our Lord. To this end, may God the Father grant you His grace; through the same, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Note: The Exhortation Before Communion is taken from The Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship