This week-end, we'll celebrate 2 events in the life of my nephew. He will take his First Communion (he's Catholic) on Saturday, and on Sunday, he turns 8.
It hardly seems possible that he can already be 8 years old. Yet it seems that it's the perfect time for First Communion. He's still got that sense of the mystical that many children have, and so few adults have sustained. He can believe in many improbable possibilities.
Does an 8 year old understand the nature of the sacrament? I suspect that many children understand the sacramental nature of the world, which I define as being able to discern the presence of God in ordinary objects and events and seeing the promise of grace in that presence. I have met too few Christians who experience that sacramental presence, even if the Church allows them to take Communion.
My nephew has had 2 years of instruction. I don't know of many Lutheran churches which demand that kind of rigor before children take Communion. At my current church, we put bread in the hands of anyone who comes forward with hands stretched forward. Once I would have disapproved. But now, I'm comfortable with that, even if it means that very small children take part.
It's the very small children who teach us. So many of them come forward with awe in their eyes. They chew carefully. They sip the grape juice that we provide for those who need to avoid the alcohol in wine. They often proclaim their thanks and joy.
I am my nephew's Christian Monitor; since I'm not Catholic, I don't get to be called a Godmother. I was there at his baptism. I have always known that I would do my dead level best to be there at all the future religious events that are important. And as the Christian Monitor, I also try to share some of the less high festival events that are important too. And I try to have those conversations through the years that are so important.
Will it be enough? Who can tell? We do all we can to give the young people in our lives the tools we think they'll need in the future. We hope for the best. We pray.
And that's what we'll be doing this week-end.
feeling the feelings…
11 months ago