Some Sundays it takes herculean strength to keep from spilling the grape juice. Parents with small children know exactly what I mean. Focusing on the body of the Lord is nearly impossible with two little monkeys swinging from your arms as the trays are passed. I pray that the Lord understands and I think he does.
There are many reasons why Christians take communion. The Supper involves a vertical focus (1 Cor. 11:23-26), an introspective concentration (1 Cor. 11:28) and a horizontal statement of unity in Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-17). But there is also a teaching aspect to communion.
This memorial is a retelling of the story of Christ and the part we play in that story. When the Jews observed the Passover meal, children would ask about the meaning of the ceremony. Parents utilized this event as a teaching opportunity to explain why this day was different than all other days (Exod. 12:26-27). The feast was an opportunity to pass down the story that defined the Jews as a gathering of people.
Recently, my two-year-old daughter whispered in my ear while communion was served, “What are they doing?” It was time for me to pass on the Christian story. As she sat in my lap, I whispered the grand old story in her ear. I explained, “God loved us so much that he sent his little boy to this world. His name was Jesus. He showed us how God wants us to live. Then he made a way for us to go to heaven one day. When mommies and daddies eat this cracker and drink this juice, we are remembering Jesus because we love him.” I tried to explain, on her level, why the first day of the week is different than all other days.
Then the words every Christian parent has heard were whispered from her lips, “I want some.”
There is more to the story than I had explained. It is true that communion is how we remember Jesus because we love him. But it is also a way that we “proclaim his death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Jesus came into the world for sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). He died to cleanse us of our sins and make us innocent like children (Eph. 1:7; Matt. 18:3-4). Children do not have the guilt of sin (Ezek. 18:20). Children come freely before Jesus and in their innocence they belong to the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:14). Children do not have sin. They do not need the cross. They do not need Jesus’ death. Children do not need communion.
One day our children will grow up and become adults. One day they will need the cross. One day they will take communion. For this father, I thank God that day is not today. God has gifted parents with the beautiful innocence of little children. We must pass on our story until the day it becomes their own. I pray that God will give me the wisdom to help guide my children through the darkness that is the losing of their innocence. At the right time, they will need the story of the cross. They will need forgiveness. They will need communion.
But on this Sunday with a two-year-old little girl in my lap, I am thankful to God that day has not yet come for me. She sat there in my lap with her innocent eyes as communion was passed. Her little lips whispered, “I want some. ” And I whispered back to her, “You don’t need any. ” And I thought to myself, “I’m so glad you don’t. ”
© 2014, Jonathan Jones II. All rights reserved.