Receiving God’s Grace in Communion: Since Jesus commanded us to share the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 10:16), it is important that all Christians share in this meal regularly and with understanding.
Beginning with Christ: The Lord’s Supper was begun by Christ on the night He shared the Passover with His disciples. We learn from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (11:23-26) and from each of the Gospels that Jesus gave the bread and the cup of wine a new meaning. The bread represents His body; the wine represents His blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins. When we eat the bread and drink the cup we experience God’s forgiveness in the sacrifice Jesus paid for our sins on the cross.
What Presbyterians Believe and Do: Because Jesus gave this sacrament to his disciples, all who are baptized as Christians are invited to partake in the Lord’s Supper. Whether you are a parent preparing your children for the Lord’s Supper or an adult seeking a fuller understanding of the sacrament, there are four fundamental truths to emphasize:
1) It is a meal of Remembrance. Just as we remember the soldiers who died on Memorial Day and the provision of God for our forebearers on Thanksgiving, communion is a time to remember the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. Let children know how Jesus died on the cross and how His sacrifice paid for our sins (see Colossians 1:18-23).
2) We prepare for it with Repentance. To repent means to “turn around.” We turn from our own mistaken ways to God’s wonderful ways. Children should not be overly shamed with sin but should recognize right from wrong and be taught that repentance is saying “sorry” to God when we have disobeyed Him.
3) We receive it Rejoicing in our salvation. Sometimes we get too sad and sober at Communion, forgetting that this is a sign of God’s love for us. Remember Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us.” Let children know that just as you love them and feed them to make them grow strong, God feeds us through this sacrament to make us grow strong spiritually. We rejoice that God loves us so much to take care of us.
4) The effect should be Reunion – with Christ and with each other. Communion calls us to be reconciled with God and with each other. Just as the family comes together from their separate ways when it is time for dinner (or should), so the family of God comes together at the Lord’s Table. This is a time to lay down our differences and share a family meal together. Encourage children to settle their differences with family members and model this yourself by asking forgiveness when needed.
Do Presbyterians believe that anything happens to the bread and wine?
While nothing physically changes, we do believe that Christ is spiritually present (1 Cor. 10:16) and that by faith we experience a deeper communion with Him.
Must my children take communion?
No. No one is required to take communion but everyone who is baptized is always welcome. We invite baptized children to share in this meal of the new covenant just as children shared in the Passover, the meal of the old covenant. As a parent, you need to determine if you think your child is ready. If you wish, you may also consult the pastor.
Why must I be baptized to take communion?
Baptism is the visible sign of entering the covenant community. Since this is the meal of the new covenant, only those who have pledged themselves by faith to Christ and obeyed His command to be baptized are served the Lord’s Supper.
At what age should my children start taking communion?
As soon as they show an interest and can understand some of the basics of the gospel message, they should receive instruction. They should also understand the serious nature of the sacrament and not see it simply as a church “snack.” Until the time they are ready, a supply of candy, crayons and paper are a good way to occupy your children during this time. After the church service, talk to them about what went on and answer any questions they may have.