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Everyone is invited – supper with children
How do children feel when they have been allowed to go to the sacrament for years and are suddenly excluded from their new home? The sacrament is, among other things, a strengthening in the life of Christians. And children can also use a strengthening for the new life situation. That makes you think. The sacrament has other aspects besides the aspect of strengthening: school forgiveness, communal meal, anticipation of the feast in the kingdom of God, feeling the presence of Christ, promise of the covenant and some more. The sacrament is perceived differently individually, your own needs also change from the sacrament to the sacrament. For example, one time you want to bring a debt to God and ask for forgiveness, another time you want to feel the community. The Lord’s Supper is open to all of these aspects.
Communion thoughts (after Kerstin Othmer-Haake, in Senfkorn special, p. 4)
When we come together in worship to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember Jesus Christ. We tell of his encounters with people of all classes and ethnic groups.
Jesus Christ looked at everyone: men and women, old and young, children and adults, disabled and non-disabled, poor and rich, in short: all!
Jesus Christ sat down with those who were in the twilight, on the margins of society, yes, who were even guilty.
Jesus Christ called them to himself, the despised, the least, the unloved. For them it was living water, bread of life and the way they could walk upright. He invited himself to be their guest.
If we get together for the Lord’s Supper as we did then, then Jesus Christ is mysteriously among us. We remember when he broke bread, blessed the chalice, prayed, and gave it to everyone.
Everyone is welcome, even those who are not sane, they are invited.
Everyone is welcome, even those whose eyes are clouded and whose gait is bowed, they are invited.
Everyone is welcome, even those who are broken-hearted, they are invited …
All are welcome!
Supper with children
The sacrament is one of the central elements in the (service) life of Christians.
It is also becoming increasingly important in the context of church services with children. According to the survey in our regional church from 2006, more than 45% of all congregations have given children the opportunity to participate in the sacrament, and the trend is rising. This is gratifying and good, because there is no convincing reason why baptized children should not be able to participate in the sacrament. Every baptized Christian is entitled to it. If you have the courage to baptize young children without being asked, you must enable them to attend the sacrament in good time.
The sacrament is this sacrament of communion celebrated with the signs of bread and wine with the risen Jesus Christ and with our neighbors.
It grew out of the everyday life practice of Jesus. This primarily includes turning to the marginalized groups, which include the weak and the sick as well as the children (Mk 10.13-16). This includes his meals with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2.13f; Luke 19.1-10). These meals lead to the last meal of Jesus with his disciples on the eve of his death. While they are celebrating the Passover, he begins the sacrament (Mt 26.20ff). The experiences of being together (at a table) do not end with the death of Jesus. They are designed for the future. They continue in the meals to which the Risen One invites his disciples (Lk 24,39f. 41f; Joh 21,12f), and in the gatherings in which the early church is present with the last meal and Speak of the introduction words celebrates the memory of Jesus (Acts 2.42.46f; 1.Cor 11.23ff). Celebrating his presence with the gifts of bread and wine is under Jesus’ promise to be mysteriously present himself. He himself has not excluded anyone from his table community and surprised his listeners with the vision of a gathering of people at the table in God’s kingdom (Luke 13:28). Even guilt, unworthiness and lack of understanding on the part of the people do not invalidate Jesus’ invitation. Even Judas is not excluded from the sacrament (Mk 14.17ff par). The celebration of community is thus the celebration of forgiveness and hope in God’s kingdom.
Not only theologically, but also pedagogically and psychologically, it is appropriate to invite children to the sacrament.
Faith grows “from the outside in”, needs recurring experiences that can condense into experience and are only gradually overtaken and permeated by the mind. Enjoying the Lord’s Supper requires experience and practice. If we want children to open up the treasures of our faith, we must give them experiences in which faith can live. With regard to the sacrament, these are experiences of "seeing and tasting", of believing and partying with the adults, with the whole congregation. Because children learn a lot through imitation. The experience can then be explained and interpreted later in conversation, in class, in the children’s church service. Children can get involved in this ritual better than adolescents (confirmands are often already in puberty), are receptive to the symbolic content of the sacrament, and are sensitive to the "reality behind". They are easier and easier to integrate into the celebration than some adults. The certainly necessary distinction between the sacrament and a normal common meal (cf. 1. Cor 11, 27-29) is already made by the place where the celebration takes place, by the ritual execution and by the special mood among the celebrants.
In practice, the following should be considered:
The order of our church stipulates that the church council must approve the participation of children in the sacrament beforehand. The dean, the provost of the Sprengels and the regional church office must be informed of this decision. After the approval of the church council, it makes sense to speak about the sacrament with the congregation, especially with the children’s parents. Of course, the children must also be offered aids to understanding. This should be done both in an introductory and preparatory manner and in retrospect, for every new generation. The employees of the children’s services are also to be involved here. It definitely helps if the children saw and held the sacrament of the congregation before the first sacrament reception. You should also tell them, even better "practice" with them, even play through how to behave in front of the altar according to local tradition, how to walk and stand, how bread and chalice are taken and passed on. This gives security in dealing with each other and lets some children reverently touch the – in two ways – really valuable cup.
The celebration of the Lord’s Supper belongs to the worship of the whole church.
Three questions at the beginning: Do we design worship services so that they are always “worship of the whole church”? In which services do families come with? Children and on which days do they experience the sacrament? The services that are advertised as “family services”, “family church” or the like are most suitable for celebrating the sacrament with children. Nevertheless, all members of the congregation are generally invited to every sacrament service, including children, people with dementia and other impaired people. Easy language and additional texts also make it easier for people who are not from the church to "re-enter" the sacrament. Suitable days for “divine services with the Lord’s Supper” in the year are, for example: Thanksgiving, Advent, an Easter service and a community festival as a “start into the summer holiday season”. On these days, different focal points / aspects of the sacrament can be considered. A suggestion:
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