The Communion liturgy begins with the familiar words of Scripture used in the Salutation, “The Lord be with you. And also with you.” Like with the Salutation, these words acknowledge that the pastor serves the congregation as an under-shepherd in the stead and by the command of Christ in order to give the Lord’s gifts to His people. Just as the Salutation precedes the gifts given in God’s Word, the Preface precedes the gifts given in the Sacrament. (2 Timothy 4:22).
These words, together with the following responsory (“Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give him thanks and praise.”), declare the reality that occurs in the Lord’s Supper, that heaven and earth are joined together in Christ Jesus. (Colossians 3:1; Psalm 136).
The Preface first appeared in 150 AD, but is argued by some to have been in use by the Church while John the evangelist was still alive.