Imitation of Christ – Book 4, Ch.16-18, pt.1

This week we are concluding our reading of Thomas á Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ.  Our time together this week will be spent within the service of Holy Communion.  George Wells+ will be leading us.  The meditations and discussion will be incorporated within the service itself. 

The rubrics of the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer (which is still the lawful official BCP in the Church of England), provide that the Minister shall give a warning to the congregation that on the next Sunday or Holy Day that Holy Communion would be celebrated.  As part of this warning, the Minister was to read the following Exhortation:

Dearly beloved, on Tuesday, it is purposed, through God’s assistance, to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by them received in remembrance of his meritorious Cross and Passion; whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are make partakers of the Kingdom of heaven. Wherefore it is our duty to render most humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God our heavenly Father, for that he hath given his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that holy Sacrament. Which being so divine and comfortable a thing to them who receive it worthily, and so dangerous to them that will presume to receive it unworthily; my duty is to exhort you in the mean (interim) season to consider the dignity of that holy mystery, and the great peril of the unworthy receiving thereof; and so to search and examine your own consciences, and that nor lightly and after the manner of dissemblers with God; but so that ye may come holy and clean to such a heavenly Feast, in the marriage-garment required by God in holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy Table.

The way and means thereto is: First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of God’s commandments; and whereinsoever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other; and being likewise ready to forgive others that have offended you, as ye would have forgiveness of your offences at God’s hand: for otherwise the receiving of the holy Communion doth nothing else but increase your damnation. Therefore if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of his Word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other grievous crime, repent you of your sins, or else come not to that holy Table; lest, after the taking of that holy Sacrament, the devil enter into you, as he entered into Judas, and fill you full of all iniquities, and bring you to destruction both of body and soul.

And because it is requisite, that no man should come to the Holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to a discreet and learned Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of God’s holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.

Please read the Exhortation and make your Preparations.  Please make every effort to attend this week. Communion is always to be celebrated with the household and community of faith and it is my earnest hope that we can all be together this week.

Dinner is at 6.  The menu is meatballs and panzanella.  The service will start at 6:45.  Hope to see you here.

Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. The bread which I will give is My Flesh, for the life of the world. Take you and eat: this is My Body, which shall be delivered for you. Do this for the commemoration of Me. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, abides in Me, and I in him. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  

Matt. 11:28, John 6:52, 1 Cor. 11:24, John 6:57, John 6:64.

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