The Ideal Quarterly Service

Conducting the quarterly ordinance service is one of the most sacred duties a minister is called upon to perform.

By J. A. WASSENMILLER, Pastor, Chicago, Illinois

Conducting the quarterly ordinance service is one of the most sacred duties a minister is called upon to perform. That the procedure be carried out according to the prin­ciple set forth in the Bible is very important. When the officiating minister nears the table or altar, he steps, as it were, on holy ground. This service should be a sacred occasion to the minister as well as to the church. Jesus, the great Redeemer of this world, is holy. The angels declare: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." Therefore, since Jesus is holy, the symbols that represent Him must also be holy.

G. B. F. Hallock, speaking of the Lord's supper from the Protestant viewpoint, says, "The sacrament of the Lord's supper is the holy of holies in the temple of Christian wor­ship." If there is a people on earth today who should take the lead in teaching the sacredness of the Lord's supper, it should surely be GoTs chosen people. As a denomination we do rec­ognize its sacredness, since we permit only or­dained ministers to preside over the ordinance of the Lord's house. On this occasion the officiating minister is taking the place of a priest, standing between God and His people. ak not by offering a lamb and carrying the blood VI into the sanctuary, as a type of Christ to come, but by using those sacred emblems of the Lord's supper as a reminder of the time when Jesus, the true Lamb of God, gave His life for the sins of the world.

The service of the Lord's supper is just as holy today as it was when instituted by Jesus Christ. Jesus is still present when this sacred ordinance is celebrated. We read in "The Desire of Ages:"It is at these, His own appointments, that Christ meets His people, and energizes them by His presence."—Page 656.

In most churches this service is conducted on the next to the last Sabbath of the quarter. The ordinance of the Lord's house should be announced at least one week before the time of the service. The church clerk, deacons, and deaconesses should take down the names of those who were not present when the an­nouncement was made, and invite them by a personal visit during the week. Or the clerk may send them a card urging them to be present.

On the occasion of the Lord's supper, a min­ister should never appear before the waiting congregation without having something timely to say. The sermon should be short, but to the point. In his book, "Ministerial Life and Work," W. H. Griffith Thomas, giving hints for sermon preparation, says:

"We must think ourselves empty ; We must read ourselves full ; We must write ourselves clear ; We must pray ourselves keen."

If time permits, about ten minutes should be spent in a testimony meeting after the sermon. Then a general expression of the people should be taken by having the congregation rise for entire consecration to the Lord while the min­ister offers a short prayer. The congregation then separates for the ordinance of humility. In churches where there is only one room, a curtain is drawn across the room, using one section for the brethren and the other for the sisters. The basins, towels, and water should be provided beforehand by the deacons and deaconesses. In cold weather the water should be warmed. There should be enough basins and towels so that half of the congregation can be served at one time. Those officiating should keep a watchful eye on the congrega­tion, so that no one is overlooked.

After the ordinance of humility, the brethren and sisters reassemble for the Lord's supper. The wine poured into the individual glasses and the emblems should be put on the table by the deaconesses before the preaching serv­ice begins. It is the bread (not the plate), the wine (not the glasses), that is the type of Jesus. The minister and the 'elder take their places by the table on which the bread and wine have been placed. After singing a hymn, the minister removes the white linen covering from the bread, and then reads r Corinthians It :23, 24. after which the ordained minister or the ordained elder of the church asks the blessing of God on the emblems.

The whole congregation should kneel while prayer is offered for the bread, and also during the prayer for the wine. While breaking the bread, the officiating minister makes some timely remarks or repeats suitable Scriptural texts. Or the congregation may sing a stanza of a well-known hymn.

When the bread has been broken, I follow the practice in my church of asking the con­gregation to rise and remain 'standing while the deacons, who are seated on the front row of seats, serve the members with bread. It is an honor to the Unseen Guest to rise for the partaking of the bread and the wine, and to kneel while the blessing is pronounced on these emblems. If an earthly monarch should come into our church, we would all rise to our feet to show him respect and honor. Then is not the King of kings worthy of the honor of our rising for the serving of the bread and wine when He visits us on such an occasion ? We read in "Steps to Christ," "The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy." —Page 98.

Each person should retain his portion of the bread until the officiating minister has been served, so that all may partake together. When the deacons return from serving the congrega­tion, the minister serves them ; then one of the deacons, taking the plate, serves the minister. If two ordained men are officiating, they serve each other. ("Minister's Manual," p. 18.) All should be seated and offer silent prayer while the bread is eaten.

Then the minister rises, covers the bread with white linen, uncovers the wine, and reads Corinthians II :25, 26. The congregation should kneel again while the blessing is asked on the wine. The minister or the elder (if both officiate) should ask the congregation to rise while the deacons serve them with the wine. All participants should wait until the minister has been served before they are seated to par­take of the wine, while they pray silently. The deacons rise again, gather the cups, and bring them to the minister, who covers them with the linen cloth. In the Review and Herald of June 7, 1898, we read:

"The broken bread and pure juice of the grape are to represent the broken body and spilled blood of the Son of God. Bread that is leavened must not come on the communion table ; unleavened bread is the only correct representation of the Lord's supper. Nothing fermented is to be used. Only the pure fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread are to be used."

After the closing hymn is sung, the congre­gation should be dismissed with the benedic­tion. It is appropriate to remember those who are bedfast at the time of the Lord's supper. The minister, elder, deacon, and deaconess should visit them, and serve them with the Lord's supper. It is well to notify them be­forehand. The great mistake is sometimes made of serving the sacred emblems to children who are not members of the church and who are not able to discern the Lord's body. Our Lord is thereby dishonored. We cannot be too careful in handling these sacred emblems of the Lord.

Music for Quarterly Services

The hymns which follow (all taken from "Christ in Song") may be played during the time the congregation is separating for the ordinance of humility. It will be noticed that several of these are in the same key, or closely related keys, into which they may be easily modulated. For the convenience of the organ­ist or pianist, these might be taken out of old hymnbooks and arranged on a large cardboard, thus making them all available at one time without the necessity of turning from page to page and from book to book.

Title

Number

"Jesus Paid It All" ...........................

107

'My Faith Looks Up to Thee' ............

108

"Just as I Am" .................................

145

"I Remember Calvary ......................

305

"Walking With God" ........................

295

"A Closer Walk" ..............................

160

"More Love to Thee" ........................

297

"Near the Cross" .............................

289

"My Jesus, I Love Thee" ..................

299

"For Us" .........................................

334

During the breaking and passing of the bread, these hymns, likewise taken from "Christ in Song," may be played:

Title                                                        Number

"Break Thou the Bread of Life" .................  384

"While in Sweet Communion" ...................  462

For the passing of wine, the following three hymns from "Christ in Song" are suggested:

Title                                                        Number

"There Is a Fountain" ...............................  146

"The Wondrous Cross" ............................  172

"Chief of Sinners" ....................................  139

The studied co-operation of the organist can do much to avoid confusion, and bring the spirit of worship and beauty into the celebra­tion of this solemn ordinance.

Mrs. John E. Weaver


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By J. A. WASSENMILLER, Pastor, Chicago, Illinois

June 1941

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