This week, I got to hang out with my collection of various relatives that I call my “small kinfolk.” It’s way too complicated to trace how we’re actually related. The two six-year-olds and the two-year-old think I am one of the coolest almost-grown-ups they’ve ever met, and the 7-week-old tolerates me, which I can accept.
So, on Christmas Eve, since each one grabbed one of my hands and pulled me down the pew (and because I bask in their attention), I sat between the six-year-olds Evie and Abbi. Between each verse of the service’s carols and after each sentence of the readings I got to inspect a new drawing or new spelling of my name. I also ended up covered in Abbi’s glitter since she sat in my lap. (Side note: the degree to which one is covered in glitter by a small child is an objective measure of how much fun one had.)
At some point, the outer rows of the church started to make their way to the front for communion. Since Abbi’s parents did not attend service and are not Christians, I realized the should-the-six-year-old-take-communion question was up to me for that evening.
I bent my head around the glittery child I held in my arms.
“Abbi, have you ever taken communion before?”
“I don’t think so.”
Thinking communion was a big word, I asked, “The piece of bread and the little cup of juice?”
“Oh yeah, I think I have.”
“Do you know why we take it?”
Oh goodness, I think, how do I condense 2,000 years of tradition and various debates about Communion into a minute-long explanation to a kindergartener during a church service?
“Well, Abbi, we eat the bread and drink the juice because Jesus asked us to. Every time we take Communion, Jesus wants us to remember what He did for us. Jesus died for us so–”
” –so we wouldn’t have to die and we can go with Him to Heaven.”
I smiled. “Exactly.”
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. – Luke 22:19-20
Who cares if you understand trans- and con-substantiation, symbolism, communion/eucharist/Lord’s Supper, or wine vs. grape juice? Since Abbi understood what Jesus’ death meant for her, whether or not she understood exactly what death is, she understood Jesus’ point in instituting Communion. He asks us to break bread and drink juice in remembrance of Him.
And so I took my small kinfolk down and held her hands out for bread and juice.
Thank you, Jesus, for your gift. Ευχαριστω.