The communion service follows the same Gospel pattern. Many of the principles are the same, except that now the church responds to God in communion, another dimension of faith.
Confession: After an opening hymn and introductory versicle, the minister prays the “collect for purity.” He then reads the law, after which the congregation prays, “Lord have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law.”
Grace: The grace of God is declared by the reading of Scripture: the Epistle and Gospel.
Response: The congregation is allowed to respond in faith by saying or singing the Nicene Creed, listening to the sermon, giving a tithe and offering to the Lord, and praying for the Church Militant (Church marching on the earth).
Confession: The congregation is called upon to confess its sin as it enters close to God. This confession is similar to the one in Morning Prayer. It is a statement of repentance, emphasizing man’s need to turn from his sin.
Grace: After confession of sin, an absolution is declared. Scripture that promises forgiveness is read. The congregation is turned to the Lord as the one true source of assurance.
Response: The congregation responds with the sursum corda, which is simply the Latin for, “Lift up your hearts.” At this point, the people of God draw near to the heavenlies such that the boundary between earth and heaven is torn away. The angels are now in the balcony as “so great a host surrounding” (Hebrews 12:1ff.). Immediately after the sursum corda, the “Thrice holy” (historically referred to as the trisagion) is said with a brief preface before it. This is a direct quote from Scripture: “Therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious name evermore praising Thee and saying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory; glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen’.” All of this is a response of thankfulness.
Confession: The final Gospel cycle begins with the “Prayer of Humble Access.” This title graphically captures the essence of the prayer. It states that the Church is “not worthy to eat the crumbs under Thy table.” It is a simple statement of contrition.
Grace: The grace of God is expressed in the “Prayer of Consecration,” where the elements of bread and wine are set apart, together with the people. Communion is a means of grace: the grace of God is applied through participation by faith in the Lord’s Supper.
Response: The rest of the service is one large response. Everything has led to this point. The response of faith begins with the reception of communion. The people come forward to emphasize that they are drawing near by faith. We are privileged to come and kneel before the Lord in a special way to receive his special meal. Afterwards, they return to sing the “Gloria,” rejoicing at having eaten with Jesus. Finally, they pray and receive the benediction. Then the service closes with a recessional hymn, as the clergy and other attendants lead the congregation out into the world to respond with good works and living faith.