St. John Lutheran Church - Believe It, Live It, Share It!
DID YOU KNOW....
ST. JOHN OFFERS FIRST COMMUNION
This is nothing new for the Lutheran Church. Historically the church has communed children before the Rite of Confirmation. Even our own 'Agenda' for the hymnal (that's the book used by pastors for performing all the various rites and ceremonies of the Church), the Lutheran Service Book, has the rite “First Communion prior to Confirmation” that had been developed and approved by the Synod in Convention, indicating that this practice is gaining acceptance in the LCMS churches.
We believe, teach, and confess at St. John that in receiving the Lord's Supper we receive the very body & blood of Christ our Lord (Matthew 26:26,28). We believe this is one of the many gifts that the Lord has given to His church for our benefit.
Therefore, If receiving the Lord's Supper is a benefit for the Christian, whereby we receive from Christ the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, and the strengthening of faith; shouldn't we be preparing our children to receive it as soon as possible?
the answer is simple enough, “Yes, we should be preparing our children to receive the Lord's Supper as soon as possible” . . . But how do we do it?
How do we make a change like this? How do we do confirmation if first communion is separate? How do we make sure that a child has been properly trained and understands what it is that we receive in the Sacrament? After all, Paul does warn in his epistle to the Corinthians, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)
So... what makes one ready to receive communion? According to our confessions, Luther suggest in the Large Catechism, that one must know the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer by heart before receiving the Lord’s Supper.
We also learn from the Small Catechism that reception of the Lord’s Supper is not based on knowing enough or being good enough. No, concerning worthy reception of the Lord's Supper, the Small Catechism teaches that a “person is truly worthy and well prepared (to receive the Lord's Supper) who has faith in these words: 'Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.' ”
It’s faith that grabs hold of the promises of God. Faith trust that what God says, He does. Can children have faith and believe in those words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins?” Yes!
Can the faith of a child discern (that is recognize) that Jesus is in the bread and wine because He said so? Yes!
SO WHAT MUST MY CHILD DO TO RECEIVE FIRST COMMUNION?
First of all, pray. Pray for your child that he / she would grow in the knowledge of Christ our Lord, and be guided by the Holy Spirit in all truth and wisdom according to the very Word of God.
Then teach your child. Yes, YOU TEACH, your child the basics. Luther's Small Catechism states: "As the head of the household should teach them in a simple way to his household" So teach your children and your spouse, as well as familiarize yourself with the following things:
Attend worship service weekly as a family, go to Sunday school and adult bible study as well. And once your child has memorized the things of the faith listed above, set up a time with the pastor for your child to go through a class on Holy Communion and First Communion.
Once your child has done all of the above, they will be examined by the Pastor, along with an elder, and the parent(s). After this examination it will be determined if your child is ready to come to the table to receive the blessings of our Lord.
Our goal is for all of God's children to be able to come to the table, but in coming we want to make sure that the children understand the things they are receiving and not necessarily taking it to their harm.
Is there an age limit?
No, there is no age limit. We aren't focused on age but we are focused on faith. If your child can learn the things of God and answer for the faith when questioned, then they may be welcomed to the table of the Lord.
After all, does not our Lord say, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14)