Eyes open wide and a huge smile on her face. That is what I saw this past Sunday when I looked out into our congregation and I saw my 4-year-old daughter. Why was she so wide-eyed with a huge smile? We were about to do something special, her most favorite part of any worship service, take communion.
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t exactly sure if I was going to let my kids have communion before I formally introduced it to them in a class setting. I think there is value in the Catholic Church “First Communion” model. There is something special—something holy—that sets that day apart for that child and for their family. I had these visions of my children always remembering the first time they took communion and how they felt at that moment. Something that I can’t and don’t remember.
I’ve been taking communion ever since I can remember, I actually don’t remember a time that the bread and cup were offered that I didn’t take it (unless I went to the Catholic Church with my Dad). My mom made sure I knew the basics (what the bread and cup symbolized), but beyond that, I learned it on the go.
Learning on the go. Thinking about this now, this is how I learned most things about Christianity and how I grew in my faith. It was always on the go. Most of my deep Christian learning, never happened in a formal classroom, but rather on the fly. And probably at the least expected times.
And so two months ago, when I saw Maggie’s eyes filled with curiosity, I made the plunge and offered her the bread of life. While we had the “bread represents Jesus’ body” and the “juice represents his blood”, her knowledge is quite basic, which is truly all we need. That first time, taking the sacrament, was special for her, not in this imaginary way in which I thought it would be a marker in her journey, but in feeling welcome.
This past Sunday when we caught her of guard with our Words of Institution, she stop coloring, looked up and knew something special was about to happen. Not only was it about to happen, but she was welcomed to come take part. She probably won’t remember the first time she took communion, but perhaps just maybe she will remember the feeling of joy she had.
*As an aside, Ellie, our 6-year-old, has not come forward for communion at Second, I am sure she will when she is ready. It is exciting and fun to see and hear the kids, most often at the dinner table with their dinner rolls and cups of juice, saying the Words of Institution including Maggie’s favorite line—- “Drink ye all, of it”