On the first Sunday of each month, we take part in communion as a church family. Starting February 4th, we will be taking communion at the beginning of the service so our children can join us! Here are several different forms of participation that we welcome at First Ave, as well as some suggestions for talking to your children about communion before or after Sunday morning.
The most basic form of participation is watching others take part in communion. Often the questions are asked during a service, a time when adequate answers cannot be given. Take another time to sit down with your children and answer their questions.
As observation increases understanding, make a point of including your children. Allow them to handle communion trays and make a point of speaking words of blessing to them. Before a communion service, lead them through a time of personal reflection just as you would engage in self-examination to prepare your own self. Help them understand both the solemnity and the celebration of thankfulness that accompanies forgiveness.
Read the Passover stories (Exod. 12, Luke 22:7-20) and communion scriptures in the New Testament with them (1 Cor. 11:11-22). Remember to encourage them! Jesus welcomed children (Mark 10:13-16).
As understanding increases, the desire to participate may also increase. This desire is an open door to one of the most formative discipleship stages in the life of a believer. Children often understand much more than adults realize. If children do not yet have the clear ability to express in adult language what communion means, that does not mean they lack understanding.
Four Ways to Help Prepare Your Child for Communion:
You can help your children understand and appreciate communion by relating it to their lives. Familiar, ordinary realities that kids already value can be conversation-starters for exploring the meaning of communion with them. Here are four ways to use those everyday realities to talk about the meaning of communion with your children so they will understand before receiving communion for the first time.
1. Spiritual Food. Kids love food. How many times a day have you heard, "What's for dinner?" or "Isn't there anything good to eat (read: junk food) around here?" So, food is a natural starter for conversations about communion, since it is a ritual meal. Here are some ways food can help you talk to your children:
- "Communion is a meal. On the table of the altar, Jesus feeds us with his Body and Blood, under the appearances of bread and juice."
- "Just as food nourishes our bodies, communion is spiritual food that nourishes our soul."
- "The bread and juice are signs that tell us the Lord is nourishing us spiritually."
- "Unlike other signs--stop signs, for example--that can't cause us to do anything, the bread and juice of communion cause what they signify. They nourish us in our spirit; they cause us to grow in Christ."
2. Real Presence. Friends are a high priority for your kids. Your children's experience of friendship can be a launching pad for talking about communion, the sacrament in which Christ is present to us and shares his life with us. Some possible lines for conversation are:
- "We like to be around friends, and our love for them grows when we're with them."
- "Jesus called us friends, and through what He did on the cross (which we celebrate at communion) He made it possible for us to be with him (see John 15:15)."
- "When we celebrate communion and spend time in Jesus' presence, our love for him grows."
3. Sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice on the cross was the offering of his Body and Blood to the Father as gifts for the salvation of the world. You can use the concept of gift giving to help your children understand the sacrificial element of communion. Here are some points to make:
- "We give gifts as a sign of our giving ourselves to people we love."
- "Friends like to share with us our gifts to them --like candy or toys--as a way of uniting themselves to us in love."
4. Celebration. We have parties to celebrate events and anniversaries, and communion is a celebration of the most important event ever. You may find the following themes helpful:
- "At parties, we celebrate with special foods and drinks, and we do things like sing and dance to express how we feel."
- "Communion is a celebration. We gather with friends to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus."
- "Communion is a thanksgiving celebration of what God has done for us in Christ."