Jesus lives in our tummies!
– Evan proclaims as he takes a sip of grape juice.
We are currently in the midst of the most important celebration of the Christian faith: Easter Weekend. Yesterday was Good Friday, when we remember the crucifixion of Christ. Tomorrow we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection. As part of the Easter celebration, it is traditional to take part in the Lord’s Supper (communion). Many parents wonder, when is the right time to offer their children communion? Some traditions say that only baptized believers can take communion. We have no problem with offering communion to children, but we recognize that for those who have not accepted Jesus as their Saviour, the bread and the wine mean nothing more than a (really light) snack.
As part of our families remembrance of the crucifixion, we attended a Good Friday service. During the service communion was served. We decided to offer communion to Anika, our oldest child who is turning 7 in a month, but we did not offer it to our boys, Caleb and Evan who are ages 5 and 3. In order to help our kids understand why we offered it to Anika and not to the boys, and to explain what communion is, I bought some grape juice after we left the church and I sat them down on the sofa and asked them some questions, and provided them with the correct answers after they responded:
1. Why do Christians eat the cracker and drink the juice?
2. What does the cracker represent?
3. What does the juice represent?
4. What is sin?
Anika’s answers were, for the most part, quite accurate and she demonstrated a good understanding that Jesus takes care of the sin problem in her heart. Caleb refused to answer the questions and Evan couldn’t get past his fixation on the juice (he believed the juice makes Jesus feel better).
I then explained to our boys that when they can tell us what sin is and how Jesus’ death and resurrection removes our sin so we can be with God in heaven, we will then offer communion to them. (I realize that just because they can recite memorized responses to the questions, it doesn’t meant there has been real change in their hearts, but I believe reciting the correct answers is a step toward real change and a helpful next step is to actually take part in the things Christian’s do when they believe Christ saved them from sin.)
Next, I poured some grape juice into cups and brought out a box of crackers and explained to them that when Christians eat crackers (or bread) and drink juice at church during communion, it is different than the crackers and juice we enjoy at home. At church it is to say “yes” to Jesus and to remember His sacrifice, and at home it is simply a snack.
If you are unsure of how to introduce your children to communion, I hope this has been somewhat helpful. May God give grace where my instruction falls short and may the Spirit of God teach our children to know the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.