Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.
Gone are the days of waiting until Confirmation before receiving Holy Communion. The Church has come to understand that Holy Communion is the meal of the baptized and that all baptized Christians are welcome at the table, even the very young. We believe that Baptism and Holy Communion are gifts of God’s grace that we do nothing to earn. This is one of many reasons we baptism infants. Thus, because God’s grace is freely poured out upon children who are baptized, God’s grace can surely be poured out on children who commune.
In baptism, we believe God forgives our sins, joins us to the death and resurrection of Jesus, claims us as beloved children of God, and pours out the Holy Spirit upon us. We believe God continues shaping us in faith through Holy Communion, as God provides forgiveness, grace, mercy, strength, and nourishment in the meal. All baptized Christians benefit from this tangible, intentional and faith-forming encounter with God, including children! Holy Communion is a gift of God for the people of God. Baptized children are part of this family of God. God invites them to come and eat, and so we welcome them at the Lord’s Table.
Children can begin receiving Holy Communion at their baptism. Logistically, this can be a bit challenging for infants but if parents desire this for their child we can make it happen. Most parents, however, prefer to wait until a child is a bit older. Pastor Pam’s practice is to begin discussing a child’s readiness for Holy Communion when they first show an interest in receiving the elements of bread and wine/grape juice.
This interest can be expressed in a variety of ways: through their own out-stretched hands, through questions about what is happening, or through looks of disappointment because they did not receive what was given to others. It is very difficult for a pastor to ignore a child’s out-stretched hand or to deny communion to a child who desires it. We don’t need to wait until a child specifically requests to receive the meal or until a child can describe exactly what happens in the meal in order to know that it is the “right” time for them to begin receiving the sacrament.
Periodically throughout the year, Pastor Pam offers a First Communion Workshop for non-communing children and their parents. At this workshop, we will talk about how we are made God’s children in baptism and how God comes to us in Holy Communion. We will look at the different vessels that are used in the communion liturgy, visit the sacristy, and taste the bread and wine/grape juice. She can also meet with you one-on-one if that will work better for you and your child. Please don’t hesitate to speak with her if you have questions, desire more information, or want to schedule a time for this instruction.
In the meantime, non-communing children should always come forward during communion to receive a blessing. If your child is not communing please ask them to keep their hands folded otherwise Pastor Pam is likely to put a wafer in their outstretched hand. Please contact Pastor Pam with questions, for more information, or to talk about First Communion instruction for your child.