Beloved in the Lord:
In the year . . . brother (sister)_____ was excommunicated from the church of Christ. The consistory may now inform you with gratitude that this remedy has borne fruit. The Lord has blessed our admonitions and prayers, so that _____ has repented and has requested to be received again into the communion of the church.
It is the gracious will of God that we receive penitent sinners with joy.
Since all things have to be done in good order,1 we inform you that at the next celebration of the holy supper we shall loose this man (woman) from the bond of excommunication and readmit him (her) to the fellowship of the saints.
If any of you should have valid reason against such readmission, he should give notice to the consistory within . . . week(s). Meanwhile let us thank the Lord, who has shown favour to this lost sheep, and let us beseech him to perfect his work of conversion to eternal salvation.
(If no lawful objection has been brought forward, the readmission shall take place with the following form.)
We have recently informed you of the conversion of _____ , to the end that, with your approbation, he (she) might be received again into the church of God. No one has brought forward any objection against this readmission, and therefore we will now receive him (her) again into the communion of saints.
The Lord Christ instructed his church to excommunicate impenitent sinners and said, Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. But he immediately added, And whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 18:18).
He taught us that excommunication does not take away all hope of salvation. For God has sworn by himself, saying, As I live, declares the LORD God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ezek 33:11). Therefore the church keeps hoping and praying for the repentance and return of the lost sinner, always eager to receive the penitent. The apostle Paul commanded the congregation at Corinth to forgive and comfort the brother who had been reproved and had come to repentance. He exhorted them to reaffirm their love for him lest he should be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.2
Christ also teaches us that the sentence of absolution, passed upon a repentant sinner according to the Word of God, is counted binding by the Lord. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:19). For this reason no one who truly repents needs to doubt in the least that he is certainly received by God in grace, as Christ has declared, saying: If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them (Jn 20:23).
Before we proceed to the act of loosing the bond of excommunication and readmit you, _____ , to the church of Christ, we request you to answer the following questions.
_____ , do you declare with all your heart, here before God and his church, that you are sincerely sorry for the sin and stubbornness on account of which you were justly excluded from the church? Do you also truly believe that God has forgiven all your sins for the sake of Christ's blood and now receives you in grace?
Do you, therefore, desire to be readmitted to the church of Christ and do you promise, by the grace of the Lord, to live from now on in all godliness according to the Word of God?
Answer: I do.
Assembled in the name and authority of Christ Jesus, we as the elders of the church of God in this place, absolve you, _____ , from the bond of excommunication. We receive you again into the church of the Lord with joy and gratitude, and declare that you share in the fellowship of Christ, of the holy sacraments, and of all spiritual gifts and blessings of our Saviour which God promises to and bestows upon his church. May the eternal God preserve you in this grace to the end, through his only Son Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thess 5:24). Amen.
Beloved brother (sister), be assured in your heart that the Lord himself has received you in grace. Be diligent to guard yourself against the subtleties of Satan, the wickedness of the world, and the fallacies of the flesh, lest you again become entangled in sin. The love of Christ has brought you back; love him, for he has forgiven you much. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit again, who has promised in your baptism to dwell in you and to sanctify you to be a member of Christ.
Beloved Christians, receive this brother (sister) in love. Rejoice and be thankful, for this brother (sister) was dead and is alive; he (she) was lost and is found.3 Rejoice with the angels, for Christ said, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (Lk 15:7). Look on him (her) no longer as a stranger but as a fellow citizen with the saints and a member of the household of God.4
Since there is no good in ourselves, let us, with praise and thanksgiving, implore the Lord Almighty for his grace.
Gracious God and Father, we thank and praise you through Jesus Christ that you have granted this brother (sister) godly grief and repentance unto life and have caused us to rejoice in this.
We pray, show him (her) your grace, that he (she) may become more and more assured of the complete remission of all sins, and may derive from that assurance unspeakable joy and delight to serve you.
Since for a time he (she) has grieved many by his (her) sins, grant that he (she) now may edify many by his (her) conversion. Grant that he (she) may walk steadfastly in your ways till the end.
Teach us, Father, by this example that with you there is forgiveness, that you may be praised. Grant that we now with our brother (sister) may together serve you with childlike fear and obedience all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit is the one only true God. Amen.
(Or: . . . through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we conclude our prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.