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Question and Answer

Serving communion at a wedding

Question:

Is having communion at a wedding appropriate? I have seen weddings where the bride and groom receive communion together during the service. I have also been to weddings where the bride and groom have served the elements of the meal to those gathered after the sacraments were blessed by the minister. This act served as a symbol of their commitment to being servants together for the Lord in their congregation. What is OPC's stand on this subject?

Answer:

In response to your question, here are a few thoughts:

According to the "Suggested Form for the Solemnization of Marriage" (found in our Book of Church Order) it is clear that "marriage is not a sacrament: nor is it peculiar to the church of Christ. For this reason, marriage ought not to be solemnized during the Lord's Day assembly for public worship, and it is best that it not be solemnized on the Lord's Day." From this it is clear that while the marriage ceremony contains elements of a covenant-binding and vow-taking, it is not a "worship service" in the sense that it is a called service for all of God's people. In fact, the very fact that certain individuals are invited to attend (and others are not) means that even though it is often conducted by an ordained minister (with a message from Scripture and prayer), it is not a service of the church.

When the Apostle Paul writes concerning the celebration of the Lord's Supper, he mentions something very important in 1 Corinthians 11:18 and that is "when you come together as a church…" In other words, it is within the context of the gathered assembly of the church (overseen by duly ordained officers) that this sacrament is to be celebrated. By implication, it is inappropriate for it to be administered (ordinarily) outside of congregational worship. Our doctrinal standards, the Westminster Confession of Faith, confirms this when it states: WCF 29:4

Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other, alone, as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people, worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about, for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.
In short, the sacrament is the participation in the benefits of Christ in the assembly of the church of Christ.

Although the OPC has no "policy" on this practice, it would be highly unusual in my estimation to find the Lord’s Supper administered to the bride and groom by an OP minister. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not meant as a sentimental symbol to be used to seal any “common grace union” (as we consider marriage to be), but it is to seal the benefits of redemption and communion in the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 10:16). As summarized in the Westminster Shorter Catechism 96:

Q. What is the Lord's supper?
A. The Lord's supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ's appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

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