Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Communioin for kids?

When Paul told us that the law was "a tutor to bring us unto Christ" he was not only talking about the temporary nature of the law, but the teaching purpose of the law. The law was pointing to and showing the need for Jesus. The law could only reveal sin. It never was intended to save anyone, but rather to show the need for Jesus and the grace that comes through him.
The law, which was the Jewish way to think of the entire Old Testament, also teaches us about God, his nature, and how he makes his will known to us. One of the many things we learn about God in the OT is his understanding of mankind's weaknesses and limitations. I am especially amazed with how often God commands his people to do things so that they won't forget what he has done. Whether it's stone pillars & altars, or special feasts, or even physical signs like circumcision, he knows how easy it is for us to let time and distance cause us to forget things we really need to remember. I especially like those many times he specifically says, "When your children ask you....". He wanted his people to have a means and an opportunity to explain, tell the story, and make sure it was passed on to the next generation.
Knowing that part of God's nature, it makes me wonder if we've missed something very important about communion. In the culture where Jesus first gave it to his disciples, did he think he was giving them a sacred ceremony for insiders, or did he think he was giving his followers a simple symbolic tool to remember, to share, and to teach the next generation. Have we let our traditions, and the Catholic sacramental thinking it comes from, rob us of a wonderful tool to teach and share with our children?
I've been asked a few times by parents if they should let their children take communion. There was a time when I discouraged it, thinking it should only be for those who are obedient believers of Christ. Children can't get all the "deep meaning" behind the Lord's Supper - or at least that was our argument. But what was so deep about using two things that were on every table at every meal, and Jesus saying "Think about me" some of the time when you share it?
Again, was communion a "religious hoop to jump through" to show our obedience, or was it a tool to use to help us draw closer to God? In my opinion, using it to teach our children is probably a lot closer to the original intent than letting it become some private ritual to get checked off the Sunday morning list. Remember, in every mention of it in the New Testament, the Lord's Supper was part of a regular meal. Use it for the tool God intended - share & teach!

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