The bread and the cup — Christian ed at home – The Presbyterian Outlook


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While there are many elements of worship that many of us have missed during this seemingly never-ending pandemic, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or Communion seems to be top on our lists.  Congregations have faithfully offered modified versions — such as Communion liturgy offered over Zoom or in-person celebration using individually packaged wafers and juice cups.  However, all fall short of the communal practice we shared before this season of COVID-19.  Though children may not articulate the longing for “normal” Communion the same way adults do, the absence or change in this sacrament affects their faith.  In this lesson, your children will reflect on the Lord’s Supper through Jesus’ words in John 6.

Begin the time with your children by asking each person in your family to share memories of taking Communion.  You may even want to share bread or crackers and grape juice as you talk.  Encourage each family member to discuss what the experience of participating in the Lord’s Supper is like.  What is meaningful about it?  What does each person think about during the sacrament?  If your congregation has not currently celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the same manner as it did prior to the pandemic, talk about what the current practice feels like.  Are there parts of this approach that are particularly meaningful?  Is there anything that you miss or lack by taking Communion this way?

Share a bit about the Presbyterian theology of the sacraments with your children.  Tell them that we celebrate two sacraments in our faith tradition: baptism and the Lord’s Supper/Communion.  While each person is only baptized once in his or her life, we regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  We believe that these sacraments are actions that show we recognize God’s activity in our lives.  In the words and actions, we are both reminded of the gifts of God through the life of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and we are encouraged to live into our faith within the larger church.  Each time we eat the bread and drink the wine/juice, we are reminded of these truths.  If you have older children and would like to introduce them to the Book of Order, this would be a great opportunity to take a look at it.  In the Directory for Worship portion of the book, section W-3.0409 outlines the theology of the Lord’s Supper.

Prepare to read aloud John 6: 51-58.  Explain to your children that this passage is part of a longer conversation Jesus is having with a group of people who have gathered around him.  The people have heard about or have witnessed Jesus healing the sick, feeding the hungry and teaching about the kin-dom of God.  They are curious to know more.  Jesus tells them that he is the “bread of life.”  They will never be hungry if they believe in him.  The people are confused about how a human being can be food. Jesus explains that he is “the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6: 51).  Still, they are confused.  The reading picks up at this part of the story.  Notice what Jesus tells the people about his body and his blood.

Read aloud John 6: 51-58.  After reading, encourage your children to wonder what it must have been like for the people hearing Jesus speak.  What would have been going through their heads as they heard him say they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life?  How does it make your children feel to hear this?  Note that this is a very unusual thing for someone to hear!

Direct your children back to your discussion of Communion/the Lord’s Supper.  Remind them that we eat bread and drink wine/juice as a reminder of Jesus.  Jesus’ death and resurrection showed the world that nothing can separate us from God, not even death.  We don’t say that we are actually eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood.  Rather, the bread and wine/juice of Communion are reminders of what Jesus’ life means.  It is a reminder that we are deeply loved and cherished by God and are called to be Jesus’ disciples.

If your children are young, they may struggle with making the cognitive leap from the physical body of Jesus and the Communion elements as signs.  Don’t worry if they don’t fully grasp the concept right now.  This concept is a “slow burn.”  We continue to develop our understanding of the Lord’s Supper throughout our lives.

To help your children connect the idea of Jesus’ body and blood being represented in the elements of the Lord’s Supper they have celebrated, work on this art activity with them.  Gather the supplies you’ll need: several sheets of white paper, scissors, glue, and markers or crayons.  Give each child a sheet of white paper and ask her to cut the shape of a loaf of bread out of it.  Alternately, you can download and print out this template for your child to cut out. Then, hand each child another piece of white paper and ask her to cut out the shape of a wine chalice or whatever vessel your congregation uses for the wine/juice during the Lord’s Supper.  Again, feel free to download and print a pre-made template for your child to cut out.

Once your children have cut out their bread and wine chalices, ask them to write or draw words or ideas that they associate with the Lord’s Supper on these two shapes.  These may be actual objects or people they think of, or they may be feelings or ideas.  They may also want to color in the objects.  Ask them to share why they picked each of these words or images.  Glue the shapes on a blank sheet of white paper.  Hang up their artwork somewhere in your home where it can be a reminder of the importance and joy of the Lord’s Supper.

JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.

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