When Hope turned two, she began asking questions about communion, which wasn’t surprising since she’d gone forward to the communion rail with us every week for the first two years of her life. Up until that point, she’d received a blessing. But one day, as we got ready to go to communion, she asked, “Can I get some bread too?”
Our congregation at the time didn’t formally commune kids until they were older, but when Hope asked us if she could take communion, we didn’t hesitate to say YES.
Because communion is the MOST concrete, tactile part of worship. Why wouldn’t we want our youngest members – those who see the world most concretely – to participate in and engage with that part of worship?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all about discipleship… And I want people – including my daughter - to understand communion.
But when Jesus instituted communion on the night before he died, he didn’t make his disciples pass a knowledge-based test. He simply passed the bread and wine around and invited those at the table to feast. I mean – he even communed the guy who was about to betray him.
So, we didn’t think Hope needed a minimum knowledge base to take communion, although we’ve worked to instill this in her as she’s grown. She can now give you the basic run down of what communion means and why we take it. And when Hope reaches the age at which our current church offers formal communion instruction, she’ll attend it to learn and grow with her peers – even though she will have already been taking communion for a long time.
What’s more, when our kid asked to take communion, there was no way I was going to say NO. What message of belonging would that have sent to Hope?
I remember my own experience with communion, which I began taking in Kindergarten. I couldn’t have told you WHAT exactly communion was, but I knew I wanted to be a part of what was happening. Thankfully, my church allowed me to be. That instilled in me a sense of belonging from a very early age.
That’s what I want for my kid – and ALL the kids I work with in my role as the Minister of Youth and Family. I don’t want kids to come to the table only to be rejected.
After all, that’s why my congregation and denomination practice an open table. We believe that Jesus is for EVERYONE and so, too, is communion.
That should extend to our children, don’t you think?
I was reminded of this just this last week, when Hope eagerly asked us, “Is it time for Jesus bread yet?” as soon as we walked into our sanctuary.
When it finally came time for communion, Hope raced forward – eager to get her hands on the Jesus bread.
Later on, we were gifted the leftover Jesus bread. On the way home from school on Monday, Hope told me, “I want a little Jesus for a snack today.”
So, we went home and feasted on communion for the second time in as many days, to which Hope cheered, “Yay! Jesus bread!”
As we ate, I found myself praying that Hope will ALWAYS be that eager to get her hands on some Jesus Bread; That she will never doubt that a little Jesus bread will sustain and nourish her in some mysterious way – even if she can’t exactly explain how or why that is. May she always know that she is welcome at the table… And may she always encounter Jesus there.
May the same be true for each of us.