This past Sunday was my first “solo flight” in terms of celebrating Communion with a congregation as a minister, and let me tell you, it’s a LOT more daunting than doing it in Phase One college! And in Afrikaans, to boot! Thankfully my Coloured congregations follow a fairly liturgical form of service, as I find Afrikaans a lot easier to read than to speak! In Standard Three (now Grade Five), we had a textbook entitled “Vlot Afrikaans” (direct translation: “Fluent Afrikaans”). In my case, it’s more like “Vrot Afrikaans” (direct translation: “Rotten Afrikaans”).
Strangely enough, I had a very weird feeling when consecrating the elements. In line with the Apostle Paul’s words, “…for I have received from the Lord that which I give to you”, we are taught that as minister we are to receive the elements ourselves first, and then serve them to the congregation. But at college, there were always two of us leading the service, so one would serve the other, then we’d swop around, and then together we would serve the congregation. This time, I was giving Communion to myself – the first time I have ever done so! As a result, I reflected on what the “sacrament” part of being called to the ministry of Word and Sacraments means, and for the first time this became a reality to me.
This particular congregation was also somewhat hesitant in allowing the children to come forward, which presented me with an opportunity for teaching. After all, the Lord’s Table does not belong to the Methodist Church, or to confirmed members only – it belongs to all who love Jesus as Lord and wish to remember His sacrifice for us. Children may not understand all the theological “ins and outs” about the Eucharist, but they sure can understand what it means to love Jesus! And what they don’t understand, it’s our responsibility as parents and as the Church to teach them.
Jesus died for children also, and Scripture teaches us that our Lord had a particularly special place in His heart for children. In fact, Jesus tells us to “allow the children to come to Me, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”, and also reminds us that we need to have faith like a child in order to please God. Why, then, should we withhold access to the Lord’s Table from children? Surely we WANT them to come into a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour? How will this happen if we keep pushing them away?
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