Why Zora takes communion

My old denomination is currently in the middle of the “transition” from children not partaking of the Lord’s Supper to welcoming them at the Table.

In the PC(USA), children have been welcomed at the discretion of their parents for a good while now. But, I’m discovering that many parents aren’t sure what they “need” to tell their kids before they take communion. I’m talking with a group of parents and kids at my church this weekend to help them think about communion.
I won’t take too much time to get into the broader theology behind this. See here for some good links! (Hieronymous is my Dad, by the way…he says I have more web-traffic than he does, so if you’re inclined, give him a visit and share the love.)
But, here are my tiny little contributions to the discussion about this:

  1. Honestly, how much do most adults know and understand about the theology behind the Lord’s Supper? Now, I’m not saying that churches are off the hook for trying to give their members some theological education, but does one really need to understand every little theological detail in order to be welcomed at the table? And, further, by offering a “class” for kids and parents, do we imply that the parents themselves don’t know enough about communion to teach their kids (and maybe not enough to partake themselves?) I want people to have an increasingly deeper understanding of the Supper, but that is a life-long process, even if you’ve been to seminary!
  2. And here’s my strange, not-so-theological, biological argument (I know this won’t fly with many people…). When a woman is pregnant with a baby, that baby can often taste some of what the mother eats. I remember taking communion last year and realizing that my baby could taste, was being nourished, and, somehow, was already partaking. As a continuation of this, if a woman is breastfeeding (this is not meant as a jab at formula), something similar is going on. I think that’s a beautiful illustration of the role of a parent in raising a covenant child.
  3. Then there’s developmental appropriateness. I think faith is about more than rational understanding of what we believe. It comes in stages that match up with where we are at each stage of our lives. An infant can’t articulate much. But if a baby knows that church is a place where she is loved and safe, that’s as good as an adult who can articulate an accurate understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. A child reaching for the bread needs to have that desire affirmed.
  4. And as a reward for those of you who made it this far through my semi-theological ramblings, a good story. At Erik’s home church, half the nursery empties out during when people go forward for communion. Parents scramble to get their kids. Last December, I was pacing in the back of that church with Zora. Jack, son of one of Erik’s high school buddies, ran by me on the way to get his little brother, yelling: “It’s time for the bread!” I wish adults did that.

All that said, Zora takes communion. (Erik and I had a little theological debate over this–we’re nerds like that.) In her life, there are really only two super-sweet things she’s allowed to eat: baby tylenol and bread soaked in grape juice.

2 Responses to “Why Zora takes communion”

  1. Heidi Says:

    Erica,

    Right on. And I love your biological metaphor…

    A friend of mine made this argument (which she thinks she might have gotten from David Rylaarsdam). You feed your children whether or not they’re able to do the dishes… I.e., if you’re part of the family, you get to eat. Period.

    Heidi

  2. Meika Says:

    I’ll second that. I think this is fascinating. I’ve never been too comfortable with the idea of kids taking communion – the whole understanding/recognizing the body thing – but I have to say that reading the discussion in the Forum (especially Rylaarsdam’s article) pretty well convinced me. What can I say, I’m an easy sell. :) Interestingly enough, though, our pastor just brought this very topic up with me today. Chloe’s not on solids yet, but she just might get the-finger-dipped-in-wine sacrament next time around. So far, Chloe’s just received a blessing at communion-time – a common thing in a church with an uncommon number of non-Christians.

    Of course, Chloe was baptized Lutheran, so she’s already been spiritually regenerated. :)

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