Why Must The Elements Be Served?

By Rev Dr Forest Koh


Praise the Lord, we are going back to normalcy -- the cracking sound we missed when we broke bread together before the pandemic.

I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on why it is so important that the elements are served to you instead of allowing you to take from the communion tray yourself.

The act of elders serving the elements directly to you underscores the concept that Holy Communion is an act of grace from God, freely given to His people. Therefore, it has the following theological significances:

1.            Unmerited Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9): God's grace and salvation are freely given to believers without any effort or merit on their part. By having the elders to serve the elements to the partakers, it shows the unmerited nature of God's grace, and that Communion is a gracious gift from God. This aligns with the Reformed theology, Sola Gratia, which emphasizes that salvation is solely by God’s grace and not by human merit.

2.           Passive Reception (John 1:12; Romans 3:22-24): The act of partakers receiving the elements without stretching out their hands highlights the passive role of the believer in receiving God's grace. It reinforces the idea that salvation is received by faith alone (Sola Fide) and not earned through human works.

3.           Divine Initiative (John 3:16; Romans 5:8): In this manner of serving, the initiative comes from God through the elders, reflecting His divine initiative in establishing the sacrament. Just as God had taken the initiative and offered salvation through Christ's sacrifice, the elders take the initiative and offer the elements to the congregation.

4.          Focus on Christ (Galatians 2:20): By allowing the elders to serve, the focus shifts away from human actions and merit to center on the redemptive work of Christ. Christ alone (Solus Christus) is the only mediator between God and humanity.

5.          Humility and Dependence (James 4:6; Philippians 4:19): This serving manner fosters humility and a sense of dependence on God's provision. Just as believers depend on God for their salvation, they also depend on His sustaining grace as they partake in Communion. Holy Communion is an act of God's grace that aligns with Soli Deo Gloria, as it directs all glory and honor to God alone.

The above theological concepts are in line with Sola Scriptura, which emphasizes the authority of Scripture in matters of faith and practice. In summary, this manner of serving Holy Communion in the Presbyterian tradition is well aligned with the Reformed theology. Communion is a gracious act from God, a tangible reminder of His unmerited favor and redemptive work. The focus is on God's initiative, grace, and the believer's humble reception of His gift.

Let’s come to the Lord’s table with a grateful heart and experience the Gospel through His visible Word at the Lord’s table.