In the celebration of the covenant meal of the Lord’s Supper, our participation within the covenant community is affirmed. We are joined to Christ and to each other. Because God never fails nor breaks His promises, He has no need to renew them. However, we break and fail our promises to each other and to God often. For this reason, we are called to this sacred ordinance so that God may testify of His unfailing love towards us. Yet, we should not take this privilege lightly. The words of institution clearly call us to proper preparation and meditation.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32
As we approach the table, we should renew our familiarity with the basic responsibilities of the New Covenant – chiefly that our personal lives should be consistent with the gospel. Hence, we prepare ourselves by examining our consciences. First, we should examine and test our conscience because this is where our Lord takes up His residence in us. Our consciences then must be swept clean and kept in order. Besides that, we should maintain a good conscience because God is Lord of the conscience. However, one of the chief reasons we should keep our consciences clear is that our health and welfare depends upon it. The first step towards maintaining a good conscience is to keep a steadfast persuasion of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Consider the words of Scottish minister Robert Bruce
When you lie down, and when you rise up, examine your relation with God, and see whether you may look for mercy at His hand or not. The Mystery of the Lord’s Supper, p. 149.
This time of introspection is also a time of great meditation. Meditation and prayers are the daily exercise and delight of a devout and pious soul. Whereas in prayer we converse with God, in meditation we converse with ourselves. According to Matthew Henry, meditation is “thought engaged and thought inflamed”. In meditation, we concentrate our thoughts over the truths of the Gospel.
In preparation of receiving this sacrament, there are numerous themes that we should consider. We should set our minds to think of the sinfulness and misery of man’s fallen state apart from Christ. We should meditate on the person of Jesus, the humility of His birth, His patient obedience to His Father, and His works of kindness and mercy. We are to meditate on the cross of Christ, His passion, and the victory of His resurrection.
From these thoughts, our meditation should go on from the history of God’s mighty acts of salvation in His incarnate Son here on earth to a meditation on the transcendent Christ. We should meditate on the present glories of the exalted Redeemer. Among transcendent glories, we should mediate on the unsearchable riches of the New Covenant made with us in Jesus Christ and sealed to us in this sacrament. We are to meditation on the communion of the saints. We should keep in mind our communion with those who are seated with us at the table as well as with those who have gone before and now enjoy the life of the Church triumphant. The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb and therefore, it should evoke from us meditations of the joys of heaven.