Every year I plan to stop blogging but somehow manage to start a book right before the end of the year that I promise to post about and end up going another year. I made sure I didn't do that this year. I almost made it to the end of the January.
Then, according to my site meter, someone came searching for "communion crafts for kids". The temptation was too great.
Different churches and denominations have different perspectives on Communion but what if you go back to the stories in scripture? What if you ponder the story and not the theology? You have the gospels. You have Paul's epistles - lots of opportunity to ponder the words and ideas in the context of the story God gave us.
Which gospel will you chose? Why? Which images from Paul?
If children had been there, what would they see, hear, taste, touch, smell? What would impress them? What would they remember? You can argue about more "spiritual" or less “spiritual” but what non-abstract points of reference does a child have for the story?
For older kids you have a dinner, followers of Jesus, people relationships & interaction, a last supper before someone leaves and dies, memories from the interactions that took place between these people before the dinner. For younger children you have the concretes of the story itself - a very special dinner that Jesus hosted for his friends. For teens & adults you might draw in more cultural/historical context or you can let the story stand. You have the words that Jesus spoke.
There are similarities and differences between Matt 26, Mark 14, Lu 22. Which version of the story will you use? What about the passage from John 6 where Jesus talks about being the Bread of Life and people leave? Did Jesus' disciples know it would be their last supper? What about their friend who walked out? What about Peter? John? the others?
There are affirmations and denials in all four versions of this first communion story in the scriptures. Then of course you have Paul: 1 Cor 10-11* where we hear words like "judgment", "worthy", "unworthy". . . and look! Paul references Old Testament stories and story images! It may be that looking at all the stories together that we come to understand what "worthy" and "unworthy" means to our Lord. Will these images of "worthy" and "unworthy" impact children differently than they impact us as adults?
When the stories impact us the way God intends do we still need activities? What is the "doing" response that God is looking for? What can you DO with children to help them remember what Jesus said and did at the Last Supper?
We've made communion a sacrament. In a sense (no offense intended), we've made First Communion an initiation rite. In some churches Baptism is in a sense (no offense intended), an initiation rite. Looking at those stories, was that God's intention?
God has given us stories about Jesus' Last Supper, Jesus’ Baptism and John baptizing in the scriptures. Is it a sacrilege to pretend, to play-act these stories in order to better understand them or to better know the God who gave them to us or to better understand how they apply to us?
What makes the story memorable? If you go the way of crafts or activities, what will your kids think of to help them remember God's story and help them find their place with Him there?
What if we tell the stories attached to the sacraments we keep, the way we tell the Christmas story at Christmas time and the Easter Story at Easter time? Not just a couple of verses, but the stories?
I challenge you to let your children interact with the stories of communion in the scriptures, the stories of baptism with water, baptism in the Holy Spirit and see what God will do.
*giving you both chapters may be overkill but for context and OT stories