This Sunday our congregation will be participating in communion. It makes me excited! I love when we participate in communion together. And I’m especially excited because it will be one of the first times we take communion since we’ve moved the kids into our service. But I know that can bring up a lot of questions from parents…
Whenever I begin to think about having children participate in communion, I think of a story my grandma tells about one of her daughters, my aunt. She must have been about 5 years old in this particular story. Grandma starts off the story by telling how she was almost always playing the piano for the church service and so she rarely sat with her kids during service- this was back in the day when all the children were in the worship service for the entire time.
So Grandma was at the piano, my aunt was sitting with family friends, and communion was being served. In this church’s tradition, the elements were past down the rows of people in trays. Each person was supposed to take a wafer and a small cup of grape juice. Well, the trays were past by my aunt and the family she was sitting with and one of the adults (I think it was the mom) decided that my aunt should probably not take the elements- “she was really too young.” But my aunt didn’t think so, and she expressed her frustration. “What? You mean all that praying I do and I don’t even get to drink the juice?!!”
This story makes me laugh; “all that praying and I don’t even get to drink the juice.” I’d be upset too! But was she really ready to take communion? Some traditions don’t allow a person to participate in communion until they have gone through a class and chosen to join the church. But we don’t do that.
There are requirements about communion in scripture though. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 says this:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
We must examine our hearts before we take part in communion to allow Jesus to show us what we need to surrender and what He needs to correct. It’s a serious thing to participate in communion.
So how do we know if our children are ready for this? Well, here are a few things to think about and discuss with your children:
- Can your child tell the story of Jesus? That he loves us enough to sacrifice everything for us?
- Does your child spend time talking about Jesus? Praying and wanting to know more about Him? This can be a great indication that the Holy Spirit is working!
- Can your child recognize the difference between choices that honors Jesus and those that are against Him (sinful choices and behaviors)?
- Does your child identify a moment when he or she chose to start following Jesus? Would your child identify him/her-self as a Christ follower?
These are all good places to start to understand the heart of your child. I believe this is a great opportunity to understand where your child is in responding to Jesus. I don’t expect our children to all understand everything that Jesus has done for us- I don’t understand! But if they are understanding that Jesus loves them, that they are attempting to live in a way that honors Him, then I think we don’t hinder them from participating in a time that allows them to reflect on who Jesus is and what He has done for us… but don’t let them participate without examination!
Communion should be a time for all of us- child or adult- to examine our heart in light of what Jesus calls us to… to follow Him… to love others no matter who they are… to be obedient to God’s word. If we can examine our hearts and to the best of our ability, understand what it means to surrender to Jesus, then we should joyfully partake in communion together!