TATDS: Distribution and Departure

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This post is part of a series of posts focused on teaching your children about the Divine Service. For an introduction to this series, please click here.

For The Preparation, click here.

For The Entrance Rite, click here.

For The Liturgy of the Word, click here.

For The Preparation of the Table, click here.

For The Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper – Part 1, click here.

For The Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper – Part 2, click here.

Agnus Dei

After the Verba (Words of Institution) has been spoken and the Pax Domini pronounced, the congregation joins together in singing the Agnus Dei:

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.

O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us Thy peace. Amen.

This part of the Divine Service is the last element to become a permanent fixture in our worship. These simple words, proclaimed almost the same across the five settings, have profound meaning to the Christian. First, we proclaim that Christ came to the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV). We also make a confession at this point in the service that Christ is truly present under the bread and wine that are His true body and true blood. In the days where the church would break bread, the congregation would sing this hymn without ceasing until all of the bread had been broken. What a wonderful confession of the gift we are about to receive.

Here are some questions to consider asking your children to help guide a conversation about the Agnus Dei:

  • What phrase is sung over and over again? Why do you think this is?
  • What are we about ready to go do? What do we receive? How do these words connect us to that truth?

The practice of the Distribution from church to church is varied. From the posture (kneeling or standing), to the flow (serving table by table or one continuous table), to even the order that people go to the Altar (front to back of the church, back to front, right side then left side), all of these things are adiaphora. The one thing that must stay consistent, though, is that we recognize our sin and what we are being given from God.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

1 Corinthians 11:27–32 ESV

Lutheran Service Book has included two prayers on the inside of the front cover to help us in this very time of discernment:

Before communing

Dear Savior, at Your gracious invitation I come to Your table to eat and drink Your holy body and blood. Let me find favor in Your eyes to receive this holy Sacrament in faith for the salvation of my soul and to the glory of Your holy name; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Thanksgiving after receiving the Sacrament

Almighty and everlasting God, I thank and praise You for feeding me the life-giving body and blood of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Send Your Holy Spirit that, having with my mouth received the holy Sacrament, I may by faith obtain and eternally enjoy Your divine grace, the forgiveness of sins, unity with Christ, and life eternal; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

As we approach the Lord’s Table, we come together with all the saints in this true time of heaven on earth. In most congregations, we bring our children forward with us for a dual purpose—one, so the family can be together, and two, to help catechize our children about what the Sacrament of the Altar truly is.

Consider the following in teaching your children about the Distribution:

  • Read through St. Paul’s First Letter to the Church in Corinth. Focus on chapter 11 and talk about the importance of understanding what we are participating in.
  • Ask your children what they notice when they go up with you for the Distribution. Why do they think we do these things?
Post-Communion Canticle and Collect

After the Dismissal, we come to a canticle and a prayer of thanks to the Lord for what we have received. The canticle may be the traditional Nunc Dimittis (Song of Simeon) or the newer Thank the Lord. In all aspects of these sung words and spoken prayer, we thank God for the gift that He has just delivered to us in His true body and blood.

As we look at these portions of the Liturgy, think of these things for your children:

  • In The Story Bible, read about the birth of Jesus on page 283. Focus on page 284 where we see Christ presented at the temple and where we find the words of Simeon. Ask your children why these words are important. Why do we sing these words after communing?
  • Why do you think we thank God after partaking in His Holy Meal?

The Aaronic Benediction (Numbers 6:24–26 ESV) that God directed Moses to speak to Aaron, his sons, and all of Israel, is spoken to us today as from God Himself. Notice that your pastor will turn from facing the altar to facing the congregation. In previous posts, we have spoken about how this portrays something coming from God to us.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.

The Lord look upon you with favor and ☩ give you peace.


As we hear this, we make the sign of the cross to remind us of our Baptism as the pastor makes the sign of the cross over the entire congregation, and then we go in peace.


  • Ask your children if they remember why the pastor is facing us rather than the altar.
  • Ask them what we remember when we make the sign of the cross.

Whew, what a series! We are through the Divine Service after seven posts. I’m sure there are a lot of other ways that each part of the Divine Service can be explained to children, and I’d love to hear from you! Leave your feedback, thoughts, and ideas in the comment section below!

God’s blessings as you teach your children “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3 ESV).
Selections from Divine Service, Settings One and Three, come from Lutheran Service Book, copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. Used by Permission.

To learn more about the Divine Service, pick up a copy of Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service from Concordia Publishing House.


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About the Author

Joe Willmann


Joe Willmann is the Senior Instructional Designer for Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, MO. A former teacher and administrator, Joe has a passion for education and learning theory. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Ball State University and his Master's Degree from Concordia University - Ann Arbor. He lives with his wife, Nicole, his daughter Ava, and his son Carter. You can read his latest posts here.

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