The Lord’s Supper
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? – 1 Corinthians 10:16
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, together on 8 occasions over the course of a year. We do this not only to remember that Jesus Christ died for us so that we can be forgiven and made part of God’s family, but also because we believe that God feeds us spiritually with the body and blood of Christ through the bread which we eat and the wine which we drink. You can find out more about what we believe regarding the Lord’s Supper in Article #35 of the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism.
Because the Lord’s table belongs to the Lord, we are not able to just allow anyone to celebrate communion with us. God has given the keys of the kingdom of heaven to his church (Matthew 16:13-20; HC LD31) and as a result, each church council has the responsibility of supervising admittance to the Lord’s Supper (HC LD30). The Lord’s table is only for those who by their doctrine (what they confess to believe) and their life (how they live) show themselves to be Christians. Accordingly, “Only those persons shall be admitted to the Lord’s Supper who, according to the custom of the local church, have confessed their belief in the Reformed faith and are reputed to lead a life of piety. Without such testimony anyone who is a member of another church shall not be admitted either.” (Article 61 of the Church Order of the Reformed Churches in South Africa).
If you are not a member in our church and you would like to celebrate communion together with us, please contact one of our elders.
What about children?
In keeping with the historic practice of the church, we do not allow baptised children of believers to participate in Holy Communion. The apostle Paul tells us that those who participate in Holy Communion must be able to examine themselves and discern the body and blood of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). It is not a meal for any and everyone. Participants must be Christians who have true faith in God and have an understanding of what it means to eat the bread and drink the wine, what the difference is between the sign and the thing signified. When believing children are able to understand this, they are ready to make a profession of faith and subsequently to join the rest of the church at the Lord’s Table.
Because the Lord’s table is the table of the Lord, we have a practice of fencing the Lord’s table. This means that our elders have the responsibility of ensuring that only those who by their doctrine (what they confess) and life show themselves to be Christians are allowed to participate (Church Order Article 61). Many of the children in our church truly love the Lord Jesus Christ and we can testify to their faith in him and their life of piety. However, if they have not made a public profession of their faith, we have no objective testimony that they truly understand and believe the truths which God has taught us in his Word. Until such a time, we therefore do not allow children of believers to participate in holy communion.
There is no set age for when children are ready to make a profession of faith. John Calvin expected children to be ready at the age of 10 or 11. In most Reformed churches today, children are considered ready at the age of 16 or 17. When you think your child is ready to make a public profession of faith, speak to one of our elders so that he/she/they can be catechised, examined and DV accepted into full membership.