A Word to Those Who Are Going to Take Holy Communion
The following is from the Braunschweig-Woelfenbuettel Church Order of 1569, largely by Martin Chemnitz. Trans. by Andrew Smith. Unpublished manuscript.
“Most beloved in God, since we now desire to consider and conduct the Supper of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, in which is given to us his flesh for food and his blood for drink, not of the body, but of the soul, we should accordingly with great diligence each examine ourselves, as Paul [I Cor. 11:28] says, and then eat of this bread and drink of this cup. For no one should receive this holy sacrament except for a hungry soul, which knows its sin, fears the wrath of God and death, and hungers and thirsts for righteousness. But if we examine ourselves we find nothing in us but sin and death, neither can we in any way help ourselves out of this. For this reason our dear Lord Jesus Christ has had mercy on us, and became man for our sake that he might fulfill the law and suffer what debt we have earned with our sins. And so that we might firmly believe this and that we might joyfully rely upon this, after the supper, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said: “Take and eat, this is our body, which is given for you.” As though he would say, “That we [i.e. "I"] became man and everything which we do and suffer, all this is your own, and has happened for you and for your good. As a pledge of this we give you our body for food.” He took the cup likewise and said,”Take and drink from this, all of you. This cup is the New Testament in our blood, which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me,” as though he would say, “Because we have accepted you and laid your sins upon ourself, we will sacrifice ourself for sin, shed our blood, obtain grace and forgiveness of sins, and thus establish a New Testament, in which sin shall not be remembered. As a pledge of this we give to you our blood to drink. Who now thus eats of this bread and drinks of this cup, that is, who firmly believes these words which he hears and these signs which he receives, he remains in Christ and Christ in him and he lives eternally. Thereby we shall now consider his death and heartily give thanks to him, each take up his cross and follow the Lord [Mt. 16:24] and above all things love each other, just as Christ has loved us [Eph. 5:2]. For there is one bread and we many are one body, all partakers in one bread [I Cor. 10:17] and drinking out of one cup. So that we however all together in accordance with the teaching and admonition now heard may worthily receive the Holy Sacrament in correct, true faith and repentance, we will call on God the Father in the Name of Christ and heartily speak a pious Our Father . . . “