We began this new year on a Sunday, January 1. At Grace, we typically celebrate Communion on the first weekend of every month. So we began 2012 as a church with the Lord’s Supper, and since there was no elementary programming this past week, many of us had our children with us. This may have presented you with an opportunity to teach and explain something that has been a vital part of Christianity since Christ’s final days in earth. If your family is anything like mine, then you have lots more questions than answers, so I thought I’d stir the pot a bit on how to approach communion with your growing kids.
Communion is an ordinance (a public ceremony) instituted by Christ to serve as a continual remembrance of his saving death and as a means to draw us into fellowship and communion with him. By taking the elements, we remember Jesus’ perfect, sinless life (the bread) and his redemptive sacrifice and blood (the grape juice) that paid the price for our sins. These elements are symbols of the real truth that Jesus had to die in our place and was sufficient to do so. If there is anything that we need to be intentional to teach our kids, this is it. That all of us are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and that the price of our sin is death (Romans 6:23). It is only as our children begin to understand this tragic truth that they can begin to understand and receive the great news of the Gospel...that their sins have been paid for by Christ’s death on the cross and that by his grace, we are redeemed and restored forever in the relationship we were made to have with him.
As a parent, it is ultimately your responsibility to discern for each of your children when communion is appropriate for them and when it is not. At Grace, we celebrate with an “open table”. This means that anyone who has a personal relationship with Christ, those who have confessed and believed that Christ’s work on the cross was for their sin, can partake in Communion. Believing children are welcome at the open table. Those who have not personally and publicly identified with Christ as their Savior should not be allowed to partake. If this produces tension or questions from your child, then take advantage of this perfect opportunity to explain the Gospel to your kids. This may be the moment that God uses to reveal himself personally to your child. What a gift to get to be a part of his work in their life!
How good of God to give our church and our families a fresh start to this new year by allowing us to observe and remember the new life we have been given through his necessary death in our place. Blessings to all of you parents as you probe the depths of our mysterious and amazing God with your growing and teachable children. Let’s not miss any opportunity that he gives us to proclaim the truth of who he is and our deep need for him.
Ed Sweeny, Grace Church Pastor to Families