What follows is a service of Holy Communion provided by Chief Elder Wilburn Roby of Third Avenue Calvin Reformed Church in Beaver Falls, PA. The translation of the language associated with the Communion Service was provided by Rt. Rev. Karl Ludwig, Bishop of the Calvin Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church outside Hungary.
As with all facets of Hungarian Reformed Liturgy and Church Life, practices vary by region and/or local use.
The frequency of observance of Holy Communion is one variation in the practice of Holy Communion among Hungarian Reformed bodies around the world. Unlike some Presbyterians who may only observe the Lord’s Supper quarterly on the 1st Lord’s Day or Sabbath of each new quarter in July, October, January, and April to mirror the frequency of major Biblical Feasts, the Hungarian Reformed Church observes the Lord’s Supper more frequently, generally speaking. The frequency is not a subject of controversy in the Diaspora or with other Reformed bodies and varies locally.
The frequency of observance in Hungary is more similar to the practice of other Continental Reformed bodies emerging from the Reformation. Continental Reformed bodies observed the Lord’s Supper in conjunction with the major “Evangelical Feasts” of the “Christian Year”: The Nativity of our Lord, the Resurrection of our Lord, and Pentecost.
In addition, Holy Communion is observed on the first Lord’s Day in the 40 days before our Savior’s Resurrection, commonly called Lent. Holy Communion is celebrated on three additional Lord’s Days in the year: the last Lord’s Day of the Christian Year before “Advent” called variously “The Sunday of Eternity” or “Saints of Christ the King” and at the festivals of “Thanksgiving for New Bread” and “Thanksgiving for New Wine”. These last two festivals were originally linked chronologically to the Biblical Feasts of Israel which occur between Pentecost and the Nativity or our Lord. “New Bread” is celebrated in late July and “New Wine” is celebrated in mid September. Their inclusion in the Hungarian Reformed calendar reflects the incorporation of several hundred thousand converts of Jewish stock who were baptized into the Reformed faith in the life of the Church.
October 31st, “Reformation Day” is remembered in Hungarian Reformed circles though is not automatically a date on which Holy Communion is observed.
These dates for observing Holy Communion are not set in “stone”. Some churches connected with the Hungarian Reformed Church in the United States observe the Lord’s Supper monthly and at some or all of these special days when they do not occur on the Lord’s Day. Holy Communion is also served at the opening worship service of Synodical gatherings and at events such as the American Hungarian Reformed Ministers’ and Presbyters’ annual gatherings.
The practice in many Hungarian Reformed Churches is to hold special preparatory services of reflection and repentance, prior to the celebration of Holy Communion. As indicated previously, this may be a Friday service prior to a Lord’s Day observance of Holy Communion. Other congregations take a week to prepare for the distribution of the elements or the Lord’s Supper.
Note: This service took place on Pentecost, 2008
Third Avenue Calvin Reformed Church
Pastor – Rev. Imre A. Bertalan Chief Elder – Wilburn Roby
WE GATHER AROUND THE LORD’S TABLETO CELEBRATE THE COMIING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Words of Welcome
We Come Before God in Worship
Our Invitation to Worship God
Hymn: “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art”
Personal Prayers of Joy and Concern
Children’s Moments – Ms. Arlene Csoman
Hymn: “Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove”
We Hear and We Study God’s Word
Scripture Reading: John 14:15-27
Note: Usually both an Old Testament and New Testament reading are appointed. Psalms may be read, but the Hungarian “song book” is a Psalter Hymnal with metrical Psalms, other Biblical and ecclesiastical texts set to music, and other Hymns.
Meditation: “Peace I leave with you…..”
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Hymn: “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”
Prayer of Confession
Confession of Faith –The Apostles’ Creed, Traditional
Profession of Faith, Assurance of Pardon
Words of Institution
Prayer of Consecration
Distribution of the Elements – As you receive the Cup, the White is the Grape Juice and the Red is the Wine
Prayer of Thanksgiving – Hálaadási Ima – The Lord’s Prayer
We Dedicate Ourselves to God
Invitation For the Offering
Hymn: “Come, O Spirit”
The Service of Holy Communion as translated by Rt. Rev. Karl Ludwig
This document is Rt. Rev. Karl Ludwig’s English translation of the traditional Hungarian Communion service. It is downloadable in .rtf format readable by all word processors. The downloadable version contains colored text at points to help provide visual cues for the presiding minister so that the service may be conducted with proper attention to the profound content and not sound hurried or rushed.
Those familiar with other liturgies flowing from the Reformation era will note several things about this liturgy in the English translation:
1. The version of the Apostle’s Creed recited takes a mediating course between the traditional Western text which reads “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church” and the versions emerging out of the Lutheran Reformation which read holy Christian Church by proclaiming belief in the Holy Universal Christian Church.
2. In the theology of the pan-Reformed Church it became common to discuss the sacraments in relation to what came to be known as “covenant theology”. This was in order to explain how the covenant of God’s grace functions in both the Old and New Testament eras. In this regard, it is not uncommon to discuss Baptism as a form of covenant initiation and to discuss the Service of Holy Communion as a form ofcovenant renewal. In most Western communion services however, the concept of covenant renewal is at best inferred from what transpires in the service; not so the Hungarian Reformed liturgy! The liturgy’s corporate examination after both the Confession of Sin and the Confession of faith, and before the Absolution, serve to “fence the table” by calling upon the worshiper to personally confess the faith of Christ and state their intention to live in light of that faith with God’s help and reflects a concern for vital Christianity that insists upon more than “dead” orthodoxy. Interestingly, these vows share some parallels with Moravian litanies that have been translated into English. A Hussite link in a Hungarian liturgy is not totally unexpected because the Hungarian Reformed Church shares with the Moravian Church the symbol of the “Conquering Lamb” as seen in the Calvin Synod’s Coat of Arms.
3. The form of the “Absolution” or “Assurance of Pardon” is likewise unique to many Reformed outside Hungary. Many Reformed liturgies do not contain either a Confession or Absolution. Others retain both but use an appropriate Scripture verse after the Confession to encourage those who have confronted the depths of their sin to trust in the forgiveness of God provided through Jesus Christ. The form of “Absolution” contained in this liturgy reflects the pattern more frequently associated in the United States, at least, with worship services connected with the Lutheran Reformation and presented in works such as the Lutheran Service Book. There, the minister in his office as an “unworthy yet ordained” servant proclaims the forgiveness of those who “believe and confess” and who “promise and resolve”. In good Reformed fashion however, the minister proclaims God’s forgiveness and does not enter into the Lutheran habit of saying “I forgive”, however much the phrase may be qualified.
4. Unlike many Reformed liturgies which utilize the Words of Institution alone before the distribution of the elements, the Hungarian Reformed liturgy here contains an epiclesis or prayer for the Holy Spirit’s blessing upon the elements of Bread and Wine.
5. Jesus Christ’s spiritual presence in the Sacrament is not only affirmed but expected, not by virtue of a new sacrifice being offered apart from Christ’s death on Golgotha, but through the reception of “Christ Crucified” by faith. Rev. Illona Komjathy of Pittsburgh considers this service’s emphasis on the presence of Christ to reflect Peter Martyr Vermigli’s influence more than Calvin’s in this regard. In part, this may explain the lack of the traditional Sursum Corda or “Lift up your hearts…” which in Calvin’s approach to the Sacrament denoted the spiritual ascension of the saints into Christ’s presence in the heavenlies by the Holy Spirit. The Hungarian Reformed liturgy here emphasizes Christ’s local presence with His people on earth, though it does not invoke any liturgical formula regarding consubstantiation while retaining other elements in the liturgy which to Reformed observers outside the Hungarian Reformed context may seem “Lutheran” at times.
Overall, the Hungarian Reformed Service of Holy Communion is in many ways a unique contribution to the Reformed liturgy and thoroughly consistent with the Hungarian Reformed Church’s doctrinal symbols, the Second Helvetic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism.
The non highlighted text follows here:
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present age of wickedness, according to the will of God, our Father; to whom. be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
CONFESSION OF SIN
And now in response to the bidding of our Lord, let us proclaim and keep his memory by humbling ourselves before our God, acknowledging and confessing our sins and our unworthiness. Let us pray:
“Almighty and eternal God, In Jesus Christ our heavenly Father, we come Before Thee as poor sinners acknowledging and confessing that we are born in sin, prone to all evil and unapt to any good: We, who, day by day, in many ways transgress thy holy commandments; so that according to thy righteous judgment we deserve eternal death.
But now, O Lord, with broken hearts we lament and repent our many offenses against Thee: In true repentance we pass judgment upon ourselves and upon our sins.
With humble hearts we cry out unto thee: Help us in our affliction, Oh Lord! Have mercy upon us, O Father of Mercy!
For the love of thy holy Son, forgive us our sins: Grant unto us and nurture within us the gifts of thy Holy Spirit so that by their light we might recognize all the more our sins: And thus to bring forth the good fruits of justification and sanctification as a sacrifice pleasing unto Thee through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
PUBLIC CONFESSION OF FAITH
Having confessed our sins, let us also confess our faith, saying together the Apostles Creed.
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead and buried, He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost, One Holy Universal Christian Church, The Communion of Saints, The Forgiveness of sins, The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting. Amen.
Be well assured that I doubt not your confession of faith, nevertheless in conformity with the practice obtaining in the Church of our fathers, let me now address several questions to you, asking that each of you reply according to your faith and conviction, conscientiously and audibly:
My FIRST QUESTION IS THIS:
Do you believe that by the Fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, whom God created in true righteousness, holiness and innocence, each of you also are in all things frail, fallible, and sinful, unable of your own strength to stand before the Judgment Seat of God, deserving instead punishment, death and damnation?
ANSWER: This I believe and confess.
Do you believe that God having compassion on sinful man, released in the flesh, for your sake, his Holy Son, the Lord Jesus, who by his one and perfect sacrifice took away the power of sin and damnation
and that by free grace, for the merits of the blood of Jesus will justify you by faith?
ANSWER: This I believe and confess.
Do you believe that God, who resurrected our Lord Jesus Christ will, by him, raise us also from the dead, and clothing our mortality with immortality, translate us into His eternal glory?
ANSWER: This I believe and confess.
Surely, having believed all this, do you promise and resolve that in gratitude for this grace, you will dedicate your entire life to the Lord and even now, in this present world, live as his redeemed to the glory of God?
ANSWER: This I promise and resolve.
All this, together with you, I too, believe and confess, promise and resolve.
Now, therefore, as an unworthy, yet ordained servant of my Lord Jesus Christ, I proclaim unto you the forgiveness of your sins and the life everlasting which our Lord God will give each of us, in freeness of grace and for the sake of his holy Son. Amen
Let us now attend to the words of the institution of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.
They were recorded for us by the writers of the first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, but they are most clearly delivered unto us by the Apostle Paul in the 11th chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians as follows:
“I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took the Bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said:
“Take, eat this is my body which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of me.”
After the same manner also He took the Cup when He had supped, saying, “This Cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.”
Following the example of the Lord let us likewise take the holy elements and for their consecration let us pray:
“Almighty God, since nothing can be sacred or blessed without being consecrated or blessed by Thee,
we most humbly beseech Thee to grant that thy Holy Spirit descend upon this Thine own ordinance.
Sanctify and bless these elements of bread and wine, these signs and tokens of the body and the blood of Thy Holy Son, that when we bodily partake of them, we may receive by faith CHRIST CRUCIFIED, and so feed upon Him, that He may be one with us and we with Him, that He may live in us and we in Him, both now and ever more. AMEN
My Dear Friends,
This is the Lord’s Table. It is not I who invite you.
Today the Lord Jesus Christ invites all who trust in him to join in this Communion.
The Table of our Lord Jesus Christ is open to all who sincerely repent of their sins:
You are welcome to join with us in the Sacrament –
“Take and eat, this is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Him.”
“Take and drink: this Cup is the New Testament in the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for the remission of sins. Do this in remembrance of him.”
It was in this manner that the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the last supper, thus did the Apostles, the Reformers, our professing Fathers partake of it, and thus did we partake of it also by the grace of God.
But before dismissing you, we call upon you, don’t let God be lost from your life.
Don’t let sin rule over you anymore.
But rather be worthy of your Christian calling, so that nothing might take from you that love of God which he manifested and confirmed in Jesus Christ.
As His saints, be compassionate. Put on goodness, humility, meekness, and long-suffering.
Bear with one another, and if you have a complaint with one another, forgive each other even as Jesus forgave you.
May the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were also called in one body.
AND NOW, before returning to our homes, let us raise our hearts to God and thank him for all His mercies.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank thee for thy great mercy given us in this Sacrament, where by we are made partakers of Christ and all His benefits. So enrich us by the Holy Spirit that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal body and all our days may be spent in thy love and service through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
BENEDICTION: Istennek Népe,
Áldjon meg tégedet az Úr és ?rizön meg tégedet:
Világositsa az Úr az ? orcáját tereád és könyörüljön terajtad:
Fordista az Úr az ö orcáját tereád és adjon néked békeséget.
The Lord Bless Thee and Keep Thee.
The Lord make his face to shine upon Thee and be gracious unto Thee.
The Lord lift up His countenance upon Thee and grant Thee Peace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
YOU MAY GO IN PEACE!
Hálaadással vessük, Urunk, asztalodról ezt a kenyeret és ezt a bort,
hogy Krisztus halálára emlékezzünk és hogy megpecsételtessék a Krisztussal és egymással való közösségünk.
Lelked errejével tedd a földnek a gyümölcseit az üdvösségnek eszközeivé,
hogy mig mi testileg élünk velük, lelkünk hit által tápláltassék as örök életre.
Az Úr Jézus Krisztus nevében kérünk. Ámen.
Ez az Ur Asztala. Hivja mindzokat, akik bisznak benne, hogy éljenek javival.
A mi Urunk Jézus Kirsztus asztala készen áll mindazok számára, akik ?szintén megbánják büneiket;
szivesen hivjuk ?ket, hogy osszák meg velünk a sákramentumot.
Akik pedig ez alkalommal nem kivánnak urvacsorát venni, maradjanak velünk imádságos lélekkel.