2.4.7 The Seventh Article of Faith

I believe that Holy Communion was instituted by the Lord Himself in memory of the once brought, fully valid sacrifice, and bitter suffering and death of Christ. The worthy partaking of Holy Communion establishes our fellowship with Jesus Christ, our Lord. It is celebrated with unleavened bread and wine; both must be consecrated and dispensed by a minister authorised by an Apostle.

As the Sixth Article of Faith refers to Holy Baptism, so the Seventh Article of Faith deals with Holy Communion. The first sentence alludes to its institution by Jesus Christ. The second sentence speaks of the effect of the worthy partaking of Holy Communion, and the final sentence makes it clear that the authorised ministry is necessary for the consecration and dispensation of the Lord's Supper.

To begin with, the article makes it known that Holy Communion is a meal of commemoration. This aspect is already emphasised in the oldest text handed down to us about Holy Communion. It is Jesus Himself who calls upon the believers to remember Him (1 Corinthians 11: 24-25). Holy Communion calls to mind "the once brought, fully valid sacrifice, and bitter suffering and death of Christ". To begin with, the sacrament commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus and its timeless significance. This is linked to Jesus' "suffering and death" as attested in the gospels. Holy Communion thus calls to mind the concrete events immediately preceding the crucifixion, as well as the enduring significance of Christ's death on the cross.

Partaking in Holy Communion has a great effect. The prerequisite is the "worthy partaking" (1 Corinthians 11: 27), which is made possible, among other things, by faith, the acceptance of forgiveness of sins, and a repentant heart. The "fellowship with Jesus Christ, our Lord" is thus "established" by the worthy partaking in Holy Communion (John 6: 56). In this respect, Holy Communion strengthens faith in Jesus Christ as well as the desire and the ability to follow Him. In Holy Communion, believers have sacramental fellowship with Jesus Christ as their Lord, and are strengthened in order to structure their lives accordingly.

The article then goes on to talk about the composition of the elements of the sacrament: "It is celebrated with unleavened bread and wine". In order for Holy Communion to be celebrated, "unleavened bread" and "wine"–both of which are parallels to the Passover meal–must be present. Like the water in Holy Baptism, the "unleavened bread and wine" constitute the visual requirements for the sacrament.

After this reference to the outward elements of the sacrament, the Seventh Article of Faith concludes by mentioning the prerequisites through which the sacramental reality–namely the presence of the body and blood of Christ–comes into being. Bread and wine must be "consecrated and dispensed by a minister authorised by an Apostle". Through the Apostle ministry and the minister authorised by it, the presence of Christ's body and blood is manifested in the bread and wine (see 8.2.22).

The authorised ministry necessary to establish this comprehensive sacramental reality accomplishes two things: it consecrates and dispenses Holy Communion. First of all, "consecration" or "consecrating" means setting apart bread and wine from their normal use ("In the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I consecrate bread and wine for Holy Communion."). It also expresses that the concealed presence of the body and blood of Christ has been manifested in the visible elements of bread and wine through the pronouncement of the words of institution. In this context, "dispensing" refers to the act of making the body and blood of Christ accessible to the congregation, as is brought to expression in the invitation to receive Holy Communion and in the distribution of the consecrated wafer.

See also