Friday, January 30, 2009

Children and Communion


As you will know if you are a regular reader, I am now entering my sixth month on staff in a church Somewhere in Scotland, having left behind Another Place where I worshipped for a very long time and was a staff member for a few years.

The lovely people I work with here are no doubt used to Lynn's plaintive "why not...?" or "why don't I/we....?"

And so after the obligatory "let it settle" a.k.a. "Keep Quiet" three months I kinda wondered if all age communion was a possibility. Never being one to keep quiet for all that long, I asked when I could do this. I think there's a moral here. Children's pastors can be very annoying.

As in my last place, I am blessed here with a senior pastor who is very freeing (as long as you're (a) not in heresy and (b) open to his right to veto and (c) be kind by providing chocolate from time to time, you can exercise leadership in your area of responsibility.)

Communion with children present was something I was used to doing; not every time we celebrated communion but certainly twice a year in corporate worship. It's with amazement as I reflect on the past week that I realised I wrote about this almost exactly one year ago - please see
here
particularly for a link to the very helpful questions posed by Stuart Murray Williams on children and communion.


I also find myself thinking back to Calvin (gasp, from those who know me) and to his "marks of the church" - I do agree that a mark of the church, is the regular celebration of the sacraments, and - to be honest - it irks me should a very large proportion (I'm dealing with three figures worth) of the congregation don't get to even SEE communion or baptism, unless they come to an evening service.

So thanks to The State That I Am In for his very honest reflection on what it was like for him as a parent preparing his child for what I planned to do on Sunday. What he has posted gladdens my heart as I yearn for parents to interact as faithfully as he and his wife did so sensitively with their precious children. He talks of how his daughter said "yes, I love Jesus" - demonstrating that "even" a young child is capable of understanding the sacrifice made by him. Sure, long discussions about blood are not necessary or appropriate to a child at the affiliative stage of faith development, but didn't Jesus himself say that things of the kingdom were understandable by the very young? Do we need to rediscover simplicity? Do we need to re-learn that the complicated, weighty, learned strategising that we do in so many areas of our lives are not necessarily "kingdom"?

His teaching was beautiful in its simplicity, pictoral in its parables and understandable to his listeners. I love him so much for his ability to bring accessibility to kingdom things before the word accessibility became politically correct.............

What does your church do with regard to children and communion?

7 comments:

  1. Funny I should read this today. Yesterday I celebrated communion with three prisoners, one of whom in the end decided not to take it. Of all the communions I've ever taken part in it was the biggest blessing to me. We spent twenty minutes at least talking and thinking about communion - what it meant, how different churches (outwith prison) go about it, what the taking-it-unworthily-thing is about, what it's for, who it's for, etc.. Then we had a prayer of confession and preparation, followed by the bread and red grape juice, another prayer and some further discussion, especially with the guy who had decided not to take it (pray for Ian, who's so nearly there!) One of the other two guys is being parolled next week so yesterday was his last service - he said he'd never taken communion before as he'd always felt unworthy. There were tears in his eyes. It was special.

    Anyway there are some similarities I think between what we were doing and what is needed with kids. Lots of explanation is the key, I think. Assume no understanding of anything but take them with you as you go!

    In our church kids aren't specifically excluded but there's not really been any effort to encourage them to take it either. I might now have a discussion with Him Indoors (the minister) and see what his views are.

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  2. Anne, thanks so much for your comment.
    In my mind you have highlighted something that I am becoming increasingly passionate and concerned about - that ANYTHING I teach or explain to children is actually equally applicable to adults who are new to faith.

    That there is a real need in the church to simplify, simplify and re-examine why and how we do things in order that we might make God accessible to the generations who are coming after us...

    Him Indoors would like the Stuart Murray Williams discussion/thought-provoking points (link within the original post).

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  3. Michael Tayker3:11 PM

    Oh irony of ironies!

    A Baptist discussing exclusion of kids from the sacraments - when the Baptists are a church whose founding purpose was to deny kids baptism! Yougottaluvit!

    So before getting all agitated about kids and comunion, repent you errant baptists, and return to the Church of Scotland, where "the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (still).

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  4. Stuart6:03 PM

    Eh - is the C of S position of only allowing baptised children, through permissive legislation,to take communion, at the discretion of the minister and kirk session, really a more open and free position of 'let them come to me'than what Lynn is suggesting?

    Of course that may be to caricature the C of S position just as...and so avoid the challenge or at least conversation.

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  5. Hey Michael...I don't mention denominational labels in this blog, mainly because its not all that important to me....I could be a brethren children's pastor/worker, or even from a house church/cell church situation...or even....from the emergent stream...but I have never said I'm Baptist/Methodist/Presbyterian etc because it doesn't really influence my subject matter

    :-)

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  6. I suspect that the best comment to make here in regard to someone with a name like that is:
    "Do not feed the trolls!"

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  7. I don't know if you are still interested in receiving comments about children and communion, but I wanted to let you know about a children's book I wrote (about communion), and recently had published.

    The book includes a simple explanation of what Communion is (an Evangelical Protestant view). It also explains who Jesus is, why He came to earth, why He sacrificed Himself for our sins, and simple steps for trusting in Jesus as Savior. It is intended for parents or teachers to read to their children and discuss along the way. Those with special learning needs may also be able to benefit from this book because it has a combination of simple, black & white illustrations and easy words.

    If you want to see a preview of the book, please click on the link below, then click on the title of the book. It may take a moment for the preview to show up.

    I hope this is helpful for you. I have heard from others about how helpful this book has been for them.

    Blessings,
    Vicky

    http://stores.lulu.com/mygodissobig

    The book is also available on Amazon.com

    ReplyDelete

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