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A holy meal, but not fast food.

A holy meal, but not fast food.

Tim Schenck shares the ten things he tells kids about Communion.

Building Faith from Virginia Theological Seminary:

Communion, or Holy Eucharist, is an ongoing conversation for all of us. As a priest, I have the responsibility for teaching those who come to the altar rail. I love to teach kids. Kids are certainly able to relate to the practice and the idea of communion in deeper ways at different times in their lives. Since we don’t offer “First Communion,” I do think it’s important to offer instruction at various points throughout our kids’ lives.

I have a number of topics I like to cover with young children, some theological, some practical. Here are a few points I always like to highlight.

 1. Communion is a holy meal, not a Happy Meal. Although as a holy meal in can certainly make you happy.

2. Communion is not a snack. We don’t take communion just because we’re hungry in the middle of the service. That’s what Goldfish during Sunday school are for. It’s a meal for the soul, not the body.

3. Communion is not a to-go meal. Finish it at the communion rail. There are no communion doggie bags.

4. There is no “kids’ table” at church. Everyone, regardless of age, is welcome to receive at the Lord’s Table.

5. Communion connects us to Jesus.

Read the rest here or here.

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Jay Croft

Rod,. those shovels were ridiculous and showed how much the laity were distrusted to perform the very simple act of receiving the bread.

Sadly, I saw smaller “shovels” in use at least one of the Pope’s mass masses.

Shirley O'Shea

I imagine it’s necessary at some point to take a “let’s get serious kids” approach to instruction in the faith, but I think this contains way too many “it is NOT”s and only one very abstract “it IS.” Sadly, very sadly, in my experience, I find so many “no”s and “not”s – negativity – and not enough “yes” among faith leaders, ordained and lay, and we need more concrete explanations of Christian teaching and how it connects to the way we live now. If I were a child, I would be totally turned off by this Communion class and would rather eat the Goldfish in Sunday school with the (I would hope) warm and fuzzy teachers.

Rod Gillis

Two points, (1) I really wish we could get away from dispensing breads as if we are handing out subway tokens. We need to befriend our symbols, bread that looks like stones, that pulls apart when broken for us, that smells like the bread that wafts through the kitchen, water that is abundant, a deluge at baptism, oil that runs over your hands and your prayer book, and so on. (2) counter intuitively, I don’t mind grape juice. My Lutheran friends use it, including in the common cup, it is no less powerful, for me any way, than stale sherry–and maybe more child friendly. Real bread from a truly common loaf together, even together with grape juice, is far more symbolic than a dime shaped wafer that is then dipped ( ewe!) in a chalice like a doughnut in coffee. Want children to feel like it is a community meal? Make it more like a meal.

Mary Anne Chesarek

Real bread is lovely, but a surprising number of us cannot get it down. Like 3% of the population, I have Sjogren’s Syndrome, or a dry mouth. 20 to 25% of those over 60 have dry mouths, either due to a disease process or to side effects of medications. That little wafer may not look like bread, but, with a sip of wine, I can get it down. Real bread requires that I leave the worship area and find a water fountain.

Rod Gillis

Sure thing. Good point. Last parish I served in we had gluten free wafers available, kept separate at that to avoid contamination. Some folks cannot tolerate bread at all. Lots of folks cannot drink wine. And its not just the menu.Some folks cannot kneel, others cannot sit for long periods of time, others cannot stand, others cannot hear, others cannot see very well or not all. So finding ways to include people in the liturgy, which is the work of all the people, is important. However, that does not mean that befriending our symbols, and using obvious and powerful symbolism, is not important and cannot be accomplished. One of the benefits of smaller congregations, utilizing worship planning, is that reasonable accommodation is not unrealistic. In fact, generating discussion, about the kind of issue you raise for instance, about how people’s needs are met so that they can participate, can really enhance liturgical planning.

Jay Croft

I agree with you, Rod.

However, there are practicalities regarding the use of real bread. Sometimes we clergy over-estimate the number of communicants and are left with a large quantity.

I’ve made and used real bread for communions. However, I have a pretty good idea of the number of folks who will communicate. For weddings and funerals, all bets are off.

Rod Gillis

yeah, I feel your pain re weddings and funerals. On those occasions I’ve over consecrated and ended up with a ciborium full of breads because there was a big crowd but fewer communicants.

However, one of the advantages of smaller parishes and a shrinking demographic is that we have the opportunity to restore sign and symbolism in a more tactile and powerful way.

I recall making my communion as a child in the Roman Catholic church, you know, no common cup, don’t ever touch the “host”, and the altar boys ( no girls allowed) with those huge gold pan shovel like gadgets under the chin of each communicant in case there was an ‘accident” with the “host”. On the other hand, admission to first communion was the high water mark ( at age 7) of belonging, the main event, while confirmation latter was an after thought.

So, more of a meal like liturgy for the faithful of all ages, with powerful, non proxy symbols, is the way to go in terms of inter-generational conviviality.

Ashley Proctor

though the other talking points are okay, fr. tim really drops the ball with his last tepid point. eucharist does not merely connect us to jesus. eucharist is jesus. mystery doesn’t connote less, but more.

Kurt Hill

How about teaching a little bit about the Real Presence, Tim…?

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Bill Paul

See point 5.

Tom Downs

Kurt, perhaps you will give us a one sentence definition of Real Presence that the average literally minded 7 year old can understand…without calling it a mystery.

Kurt Hill

Yes, but HOW does it “connect to Jesus”? Baptists using grape juice and crackers seek to “connect to Jesus” too.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Ann Fontaine

it’s a mystery

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