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Children and Communion

**Update: I had to postpone the class until next month, so feel free to keep adding your thoughts!**

Tomorrow, I'm teaching a class to children about communion.

What would you want children to know about communion? What would you share with them?

I don't ever remember *not* taking communion. My grandmother made the communion bread, and I loved receiving communion just to have a piece of that bread! My little brother, at about age 4, when having some of her bread at a non-communion time, remarked happily, "These are the bones of Jesus!" Young eucharistic theology.

Part of our United Methodist theology of communion is calling it a Mystery. Like many parts of our theology, whether it makes us comfortable or not, we've decided it is best to admit we don't know exactly, don't have exact answers. What happens in communion is a holy mystery. Maybe children are more comfortable with mystery than adults are sometimes!

Comments

Eric Helms said…
I am no expert, but my inclination is to stick with the words of the liturgy. This is the body of Christ, This is Christ's blood--with the emphasis on communing with God. Given the magical worldview of kids, I think this allows for them to have a strong sense of the real presence of Christ in the elements and allows communion to be an incredible experience for them. I remember taking the "do this as often as your eat/drink it in remembrance of me, and would on occasion pour myself a glass of grape juice and grab a slice of bread, go to my room and tell myself, this is Jesus, and I would commune. I now know there were severe limits to my understanding of what it means to commune--but it was a formative religious experience.
Eric Helms said…
By the way, Joe and Kat have requested to go with the group from GUMC to RISE. Would you or any other adult from FLUMC like to go with us also? We have a couple of spots. You can email me (associatepastor at gumc dot org)
Anonymous said…
Hi, Beth,

A tradition at the church in which I'm currently serving is, when offering the bread and cup each to children (eye-balling it: younger to middle elementary and below), to say, "This is special bread. When you eat it, remember that Jesus loves you very much." and "This is special juice. When you drink it, remember that Jesus loves you very much." Not bad stuff in my estimation.
Theresa Coleman said…
OK, it's probably too late for this BUT...

I've used the time to make a bread. I talk about how we are all different and have different job/ gifts/ graces and that God needs those for the Body of Christ to work right.

I hand out all the different ingredients -- honey, salt, 3 different kinds of flours, water etc.. I might say "Now Beth is a really sweet person -- do you think the body of Christ needs sweetness?" and so on and so forth. We all put our ingredients in the bowl, stir it around and bake it in a toaster oven.

I do more teaching specifically with the liturgy while the bread is baking. I read bits and pieces of 1 Cor 10, 11 and 12.

When the bread is done, we use it for communion.

3/4 c. white flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. graham flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. dry milk
4 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 c. honey
1 c. water

You have to really really mix this hard for several minutes. Shape it in a ball and flatten it on the baking sheet. Score a cross in the center. Cook at 350 for about 40 minutes. This actually makes a bunch of dough. You can bake it and serve it later for communion...

I spend a lot of time talking about all the ways that Jesus is present in communion.
Anonymous said…
At the little country church I'm supplying, we invite the children to come to the front to receive the Sacrament first. Instead of a Children's Sermon on these Sundays, I spend some time talking about the Sacrament, hopefully relating it to the scripture text for that day. The children (those old enough) are Communion Assistants on a rotating basis. The assigned one begins the liturgy (The Lord be with you ....)and is the one that holds the bread as the people come forward to receive. Having the children so involved in the Communion Service has been a real blessing here.
Anonymous said…
First, I'm stealing Questing Parson's idea.

Second, great question, Beth. I don't have any good answers to add. I had one really bad idea.

What not to do.

First, go to a butcher.
Second, get a carton of blood and a big hunk of raw meat.
Third ...

Well, you get the idea how this could go bad.
Art said…
It think it's important for children to understand that communion is not a United Methodist "thing" - that we join all other beleivers in celebrating the mystery.
Pamago said…
I am teaching a Sunday school class on communion this week to first-, second-, and third-graders. They have already had a lesson on the Last Supper. This week, we'll review what communion is and what it means.

We'll also discuss who can take communion at our church (open communion), and what to do when they are visiting another church. (I use materials from the United Methodist Publishing House for my info.) The class will be "helping" the pastor with communion next week during worship.

-Pam G.
Unknown said…
I am usually holding the bread during our communion services and I recently found myself saying something like this to the children that come to communion, "Jesus said that this bread represents Him and how much he loves you." At first I wondered if it was "proper" to say, but the more I reflect on it, the more I think it is theologically sound, and is understandable to a child.
Lauralew said…
Hi Beth, just found your blog today. I thought I would respond to this due to an very recent incident with my 6 year old granddaughter, who goes to a non denominational non liturgical church. When she and her father(my son) and the other members of the family were visiting, we had pasta and red wine for dinner. She saw the red wine and asked if she could have Holy Communion. Her parents have an issue with their church as children are not allowed to commune, but they think (as do I) that if a child is old enough to ask, that child is old enough to commune. This particular child previously asked me, when I was talking about another family member who was giving me incredible grief, if that person knew Jesus. Again, if she can speak of those things like she does, she is old enough to have Communion, no matter her age.

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