Sunday, October 11, 2015

Practicing the Eucharist

Have you ever intentionally observed your congregation as they participate in the sacrament of communion.  Maybe you're too focused on the sacred act (which is what I'm meant to be too), but 12 years in the role as Kids Friendly coach has trained me to be a "fly on the wall" of worship services. I can't help but see everything from the view of an outsider, especially, but not only, when it involves children (or not).

So in some churches I notice a basket of tiny squares of white packaged bread being passed along, followed by a precariously balanced tray of wee glasses of red juice.  We don't use each others names or say anything to each other. We don't even look at at each other.

At other churches we stand in long lines, some more reflective than others.  (It's not unusual at our church for adults to be chatting about the rugby score as they wait their turn).  Once when I took the kids out to teach them about communion, I reminded them to talk with God in their hearts (not their friends) while waiting to receive communion. Later when we returned to participate in communion I noticed the kids telling their parents off when they heard them chatting in line!

So what does our practice of the Eucharist say about us as "people of the way" and the way we eat and live together?  In her blog "Why the Eucharist is useless (unless we put it into practice)", Kathleen encourages us "God's people" to gather around a table as equals, sharing our lives and stories and pieces of ourselves as we journey through faith together. She suggests that when communion was reduced to an "object lesson, we lost something huge, a central component of our faith expression, a core practice that changed us from isolated individuals into a connected family."

I remember a couple of years back attending a World Vision "Just Church" conference.  Our lunch was a feast for well over 100 seated guests and became communion.  At specific times during the meal we were invited to stop and give thanks for the food we enjoyed, engage with each other and remember Jesus and his place in and calling on our lives.  It was very powerful and I could just imagine how amazing it would be to have all ages involved in this expression of communion.

In her blog Kathleen shares ways some communities of faith are seeking to bring back the table into worship.  Read more....

And while on the subject of communion you might enjoy Tim Schenk's post Kids and Communion: 10 things to tell them.

And don't forget to check out the many resources and articles we have on our Kids Friendly website on welcoming children at the table. And please share your experiences and resources with us too.
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