First Communion: Is my child ready to receive?

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First Communion Class begins March 9, 2014, at 10:15 a.m.

First Communion will be celebrated on Thursday, April 17, at our 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday Service.

If you would like your child to participate, please contact Pastor David Tinker.  pastordjt@industryinet.com or 979-278-3388

 

How do I know my child is ready to attend First Communion Class?

He/She may. . .

*have expressed interest in participating during worship, perhaps copying your movements at the altar

*have begun to ask questions about why we take Holy Communion

*have begun to reach for the Holy Communion elements which are offered to you

*have a foundation in Christ through attendance in Christian education or worship, or through family conversations, devotions or prayer

*be able to speak about God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as loving and trustworthy

*pray the Lord’s Prayer and be able to say other simple prayers (such as at bedtime and meals)

 

The following questions can help you determine the readiness of your child to receive her or his first Holy Communion.

 

The most important question is about God’s gift of Grace for your child: 

***** Has your child been baptized?

If your child is not yet baptized, please speak with a pastor to set a date for your child to receive this Sacrament. It is understood that Holy Communion is for the baptized children of God.

 

Other questions to consider:

*Is your child comfortable in various locations around the church, like the altar?

*Does your child have a basic, age-appropriate awareness that God loves him or her?

*Does your child understand the idea of “right” and “wrong”, and can grasp the basic notion of “forgiveness”?

*Will your child extend his or her hands when asked to do so?

*Will your child be able to understand the basic concept that Holy Communion is a gift from God to each person?

*Does your child seem to have a basic trust that they are a child of God?

*Does your child seem interested in what goes on in church during Communion?

*Does your child interact enough with others to receive the bread and wine?

*Is your child aware enough of others in the congregation and their needs to show respect for the communion experience?

*Are you prepared to help make the process positive?

*Are you prepared to continue to fulfill the promises you made at your child’s baptism to bring him or her regularly to the Lord’s Table?

Only the first question requires a “Yes” before your child can be considered ready to receive his or her first communion. Use the others to generate discussion and to plan, in consultation with Pastor David Tinker, for your child’s preparation to begin receiving the sacrament and the gifts it brings.

Contact Pastor David Tinker if you have any questions about Holy Communion. He would be happy to help answer your questions.

 

 

Some history about changes in the practice First Holy Communion:

 

Over a generation ago (1969) many Lutheran congregations began separating First Communion from Confirmation. Thus, they began preparing children to receive their first communion when they reached fifth grade. Both the former American Lutheran Church (ALC) and the former Lutheran Church in America (LCA), predecessor church bodies of our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), affirmed this practice. In its 1989 publication “A Statement on Communion Practices” the ELCA affirmed the fifth grade and/or ten years of age as an appropriate and desirable guideline for when a young person, after appropriate preparation, may first commune. This is not the end of the story, so please read on.

However, it became apparent that focusing on a particular age as the primary criterion for determining when first communion is received did not adequately consider other important factors, e.g., a child’s maturity, a child’s experience in the church, a child’s family as a supportive context for faith, discipleship and understanding, etc.

After years of study and conversation, in 1997 the ELCA issued a new First Communion guideline as part of a larger document on the centrality of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion in the life of faith.

This document lifts up a biblical based Lutheran understanding of the Sacraments intended to help us avoid a “legalistic” and “mechanical” approach to how parents, pastors, and congregations raise up our children in the Christian faith. Regarding Holy Communion the statement recognizes that:

*“Baptized children may begin to commune on a regular basis at a time determined through mutual conversation that includes the pastor, the child, and the parents or sponsors involved, within the accepted practices of the congregation.”

*“Ordinarily this beginning will occur only when children can eat and drink, and can start to respond to the gift of Christ in the Supper.”

*“In all cases, participation in Holy Communion is accompanied by (instruction) appropriate to the age of the communicant.”

*“There is no command from our Lord regarding the age at which people should be baptized or first communed. Our practice is defined by Christ’s command (“Do this”), Christ’s twin promises of his presence for us and for our need, and the importance of good order in the Church. In all communion practices congregations strive to avoid both reducing the Lord’s Supper to an act effective by its mere performance without faith and narrowing faith to intellectual understanding of Christ’s presence and gifts.”

 

Notes from “The Use of the Means of Grace: A Statement on the Practice of Word and Sacrament”, Augsburg Fortress, 1997, pages 41-43.

2 responses

  1. My congregation still practices the age method of deciding when First Communion happens. It’s a discussion I would like to have in the future, as I agree whole-heartedly with the ELCA’s guidelines.

  2. Your questions are very thoughtful and speaks to the heart of preparing children for their first experience of coming to the Table of the Lord. I teach sacramental preparation in the Catholic Church and I use similar questions when working with the parents. I’ve done several posts on this theme as well. Many blessings on you, the children and parents. Our first Communion is the first Saturday of May.

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