A Special Communion Service

Sunday, January 13, 2019
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Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (NIV)

Today at church, the minister called for the servers to come forward to prepare communion for the congregation. Often these moments of ceremony are formal, even sombre in tone — the last remnants of ritual in our modern services.

Today, however, two young boys surprised us all by standing up to "volunteer". They laughed and pushed each other playfully, making their way up to the front of the church along with the four designated servers. An awkward silence fell over the congregation. We expected the minister to gently turn the children away, asking them to sit back down until it was the congregation's turn to come up and take communion. But she didn't do that. She smiled widely and briefly looked up, acknowledging the Spirit in the moment. The congregation released our breath in nervous laughter and small gasps of recognition.

The minister held a basket of bread out to each of the boys and directed them to stand beside the servers holding the cups of wine and juice. The other official server stood behind each boy, slipping seamlessly into a mentor role, guiding the children as they took part in this holy service by offering the bread to the parishioners.

"The body of Christ is broken for you," the young boy said to me and held up the basket. We made eye contact, and he grinned widely at me. His innocent smile reminded me that there is joy in the seriousness of communion and that this is a gift from my Lord. I felt joy and gratitude. I smiled back and thanked the child.

When I got back to my seat, I watched as the elder standing behind the boy who had served me, bent and whispered in his ear. I couldn't hear her words, but I could imagine what she was saying, teaching him gently about the communion table, about the gifts that he was offering, about the words that he was saying in invitation to each member of the congregation he served, or about this sacred tradition, weaving him into the experience.

Some of us learn by hearing, some by reading, and all of us by doing. I am proud of the leaders in my church who recognized a teachable moment this morning for those two boys, and gave them an experience that they may never forget. I hope that the children learned a little about Jesus and holy communion today. But I am certain that they learned, in a deep way, about God's all-encompassing love. They were not only told but shown that they have a role in our church, this Sunday and always.

Jesus chastised His disciples who tried to turn away the children who were seeking Him. But on this Sunday morning, Jesus was undoubtedly pleased to see those elders draw the children closer and stoop to teach them about His love and His church, and to see us, the parishioners who "knew what we were doing" having a new experience of this holy tradition, as we saw it through the eyes of these young children.

May the Lord grant us the fresh eyes of childlike faith as we view accustomed experiences and meet familiar people this week!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for the opportunities that You entrust to us, each day, to show Your love and compassion to those around us. Keep us flexible, so that we can recognize and respond to opportunities when they arrive, even when they aren't when or how we expect them to appear. Thank You for the refreshment of new perspectives. Help us to become ever more sensitive to the gentle call of Your Holy Spirit as we move through our day. Keep us ever childlike as we grow in our faith. Amen.

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About the author:

Katherine Bell <katherinefbell@yahoo.ca>
Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the great reminder, Katherine.

    I love this! Thank you for sharing this with us today. Blessings.

    Thank you, Katherine, for reminding us of an important message.

    How wonderful. God bless your minister for recognizing an opportunity.

    Oh, Katherine, what a wonderful story and experience! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    But the Holiness and sacredness of Communion was lost. Not a playground activity and NOT a good teaching moment.

    Thanks for sharing. I am surprised that the kids were even listening!
    What a wonderful response to them. A wise minister.

    What a blessing that communion service must have been! Thanks for sharing this devotional with us. May we always be open to the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudge. Blessings.

    Congratulations! That was absolutely delightful – and extremely well written. I shall go through today with fresh eyes.

    Thank you for teaching us that “unexpected” gifts of service are beautiful. How wonderful the pastor was able to see through the eyes of a child for service so special. Warmed my heart.

    My heart just melted reading this devotional today, how pleased our Savior must have been.
    God bless everyone who welcomed, respected, and appreciated, the children in such a Godly and wonderful way. Amen!

    Dear Katherine:
    Thank you so much for this beautiful devotional. I am thinking of sending it to my pastor and his wife who do so much for our children at church. What a blessing! May our Wonderful Saviour bless you and yours and your church family always.

    Thank you so much for this devotional, Katherine. I could see those children in my mind’s eye and can imagine how meaningful the whole experience was for them and for the congregation. Thank you for sharing it, and for making my day!
    Blessings to you.

    Good morning Katherine.
    Thank you so very much for sharing this. How wonderful that the boys were allowed to take part and that you have children in your church. This reminds me of my son when he was young – always collected the wine cups after the service, his father was an elder. Again, thank you, this cheered my day.

    What an inspiring story.
    I was blessed to be in a church which treated children like that.
    A memorable moment was when the husband and wife pastors’ young children scampered up the aisle and joined them in the pulpit and were welcomed with hugs.
    Thanks for sharing this lovely story.

    Hi Katherine,
    Thanks for this sweet devotional. We have an elderly congregation and it is a delight when a couple of young children attend occasionally. Reminds us that Jesus welcomed the little children and we must do the same.
    Blessings to you for this writing.

    This was a beautiful devotional and for the first time when I read that scripture the light came on!!! Just the other day I heard a man say, ‘if Jesus is so loving why did he say for the children to suffer?’ But reading this scripture verse, he didn’t tell the children to suffer but I think, for others not to make the children suffer or like in your devotional, turn them away. Well I am prepared for the next time I hear someone make that comment.
    Thank you and God bless!

    Hi Kathy, this is great!!! I have to say that church each week is a struggle for me. I hate being stared at and hate the (usually) elderly people that glare and shush my children. We try so hard but bringing 5 kids to church each week is HARD. I wish people would realize that yes, my kids can be disruptive but, if we weren’t bringing them, there would be no future to the church! And the mood or tone towards children is totally set by the minister/priest! He/she has so much power to change people’s attitudes towards children at church!
    You’re such a great writer!

    Dear Katherine,
    Thank you for writing of this incident.
    I’m glad the boys’ offer was accepted and used naturally.
    Let’s let children be as much a part of services as is appropriate.
    “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ ” (Matthew 19:14).
    Children and youths can do readngs of scripture, etc. too.
    We had a couple of young boys serve as ushers recently. And they passed out the service bulletins very respectfully.
    Keep writing.

    Thanks for the great reminder, Katherine.

    Thank you for your beautiful contribution ‘A Special Communion’. The importance and beauty of your contribution truly struck my spirit.
    Yours alongside you in Christ’s service.

    Thanks Katherine. It reminds me of our Maundy Thursday Evening Communions, when we would gather around the stripped down communion table. Children who would gather around with parents would be whispering in a sense of inquisitive excitement, and it always reminded me of likely how the disciples were reacting to the unusual words and actions of Jesus.

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