Some ideas forexploring communion with childrenCompiled by Jane Tibbs, Children’s Adviser for the Diocese of Bath and Wells
The Family mealWe all belong to families with patents, perhaps brothers and sisters, aunts and unclesand cousins. And when we get together as a family, we often have meals.Everyday family mealsSharing food together is a way of expressing closeness. We must eat to live. Whenwe eat together, we blend our lives together, and we show that we care for eachother by making sure that everybody present has something to eat. • How many times does your family eat together? • Are there times when some family members are missing? • Are the meals different when someone is missing?Special family mealsSince food is necessary to us, we use it to celebrate special occasions. • What special occasions does your family celebrate with a big meal? • What foods are used at those special meals?The church’s family mealWhen we were baptized, we became part of a new family, the church. This is a verybig family. All baptized Christians, all over the world, are our brothers and sisters.As members of God’s chosen family, the church, we show God’s love to our ownnatural families, to friends, and to those we meet at school and in ourneighbourhood. We pray for each other and help each other out when needed. Weworship together. And we join in the church’s family meal, the Eucharist.In the family meal of the Eucharist, Jesus shares his life with us, and our lives aredrawn into his. As we draw closer to Jesus, we draw closer to each other, becauseJesus loves every one of us.
Bread and Wine The special food of the EucharistAt your special family meals there are often special foods. For example, does yourfamily have a turkey at Christmas and at birthdays is there usually a birthday cake?The Eucharist too has its special food: bread and wine. Through them, Jesus shareshis life with us.BreadBread is a simple basic food. It takes away our hunger and gives us strength to live.Bread is made from grain. God gives the seed, the sunshine and the rain to make thegrain grow. The farmer grows the grain and harvests it. The grain is ground intoflour. The baker mixes the flour with yeast and water to make loaves of bread. Ourdaily bread is the work of many people. • Have you ever baked a loaf of bread? • How is it done? • Make a list of all the people involved in making a loaf of bread and getting it to your tableWineWine helps to mark a celebration. Wine is made from grapes. God also gives theseed, the sunshine and the rain to make the grapes grow. Vine growers grow thegrapes, harvest them and press the juice to make wine. Wine, like bread, is the workof many people. • Have you ever seen wine being made? • How is it done?Why bread and wine?Why do you think Jesus chose bread and wine as the special foods of the Eucharist?Take a moment to think of some answers….Here are some suggested answers. How many of them did you think of? Did youthink of any others? • Bread and wine were both common in the place where Jesus lived • Bread is a simple, basic food, needed for nourishment • Wine is a sign of celebration • Both bread and wine represent the work of God and the work of human beings. They represent people working together with God for good • For many centuries before Jesus, Jewish people had used bread and wine at their special meals
Where it all began: The Last SupperAt the Passover, Jewish people remember how God spared them from a punishmentthat was laid on their enemies. At the Passover meal, families and friends give thanksto God for “passing over them”. The first Eucharist was a Jewish Passover mealshared by Jesus and his friends on the night before Jesus died. We call this the LastSupper, and we remember it each year on Maundy Thursday, a few days beforeEaster.What happened at the Last Supper?On Jesus’ instructions, his friends prepared the Passover meal at a house inJerusalem in an upper room on the second floor of the house.During the meal, Jesus said that one of the disciples would betray him to the Romanauthorities. In the story written by both Matthew and Luke, Jesus told Judas that hewould be the one who would betray him.As the leader at the meal, Jesus did what the head of a Jewish would do. He tookbread, gave thanks to God, broke it and gave it to the others. But as he did so, hesaid a new and startling thing: “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Dothis in remembrance of me.”After supper, Jesus again did what the head of a Jewish family would do. He took acup of wine, gave thanks to God and gave it to the others. But again he saidsomething new and surprising: “Drink this, all of you; for this is my blood of the newcovenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever youdrink it, do this in remembrance of me.”The Last Supper and Jesus’ deathAfter the meal, Jesus and his friends went out to the Garden of Gethsemane, whereJesus wanted to pray. In the middle of the night, he was arrested by Roman soldiersand put on trial. The next day, the day we call Good Friday, Jesus was put to deathon a cross.Jesus’ life had been spent teaching us that God loves us. If God loves all of us, itfollows that we must love each other. This is what Jesus taught. But the authoritiesmistrusted him because his message seemed to undermine their power. Eventuallyhe was faced with a choice: stop teaching and living his message of love for all, orface arrest by the jealous authorities. In real life, he willingly gave his body and bloodto show how much he cares for us.After Jesus rose from the dead at Easter, his followers did as he told them to do.They continued to share bread and wine, which Jesus had called his body and blood.In this way they continually remembered Jesus and his generous death, so that hewas always close to them. Christians have done this ever since.
In the Bible there are four stories of the Last Supper that are alike. They are inMatthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.You can read a slightly different version of the story in the gospel of John, chapters13 to 17.
Setting the TableThe Eucharist is the family meal of the Christian church. When your family has aspecial meal to celebrate a birthday or Christmas, you prepare by setting the tablewith your best tablecloth and china. When we get ready to celebrate the Eucharist,we also set the table with special dishes and linens.Before the Eucharist, the altar (the big table at the front of the church) is coveredwith a linen cloth. Sometimes we call this the fair linen which means beautiful linen.On or near the altar are placed the special dishes to hold the bread and wine.The chalice is a large cup that holds the wine. Sometimes it is made of silver, andsometimes it is made of pottery.The paten is a small plate that holds the bread.On top of the paten rests the pall which is a small square of solid material that iscovered in linen.A cloth called the purificator is often placed over the chalice. It is used for wipingthe rim of the chalice when people are receiving communion. Another cloth calledthe corporal is often placed on the pall. At the altar, the priest first spreads thecorporal, and then sets the chalice and paten on it.Sometimes, when they are not in use, the chalice and paten are covered with a veilin the colour of the season. On top of everything is placed the burse, also in thecolour of the season. The burse opens like a book. Inside it, the corporal is keptcarefully folded.All these dishes are spread out in preparation for receiving the bread and wine.The bread may be a small loaf or bun, or it may be small individual wafers. The wineis kept in a bottle called a cruet and poured into the chalice at the offertory.
Can you name all the special things used when setting the tablefor the Eucharist?
These are all the special Eucharistic vessels Pall Paten Host Purificator Chalice Corporal Burse Corporal Veil
The ServiceThis is the shape of the Eucharist in Common WorshipThe GatheringThe people are greeted in words that help us to remember our purpose ingathering. There may be an opening hymn and the Gloria may be sung.In the Prayers of Penitence we tell God that we are sorry for what we have donewrong, and we hear the words of the priest who assures us that God forgives oursins.The Collect of the Day is a prayer that “collects” up the prayers of the wholecongregation.The Liturgy of the WordThere may be a reading from the Old Testament about the story of the people ofIsrael. There may be a psalm, one of the ancient hymns of Israel, said or sung too.There will be a reading from one of the Epistles, or letters, sent to the earlyChristians. And then everyone stands to hear a story about Jesus from one of thefour Gospels.In the sermon, or homily, the preacher helps us to explore the readings, tounderstand their meaning for our lives today.We proclaim our Christian faith by saying the creed together, which is a statementof faith.Prayers of IntercessionTogether, we pray for the church, for the world, for ourselves, for people who arein need, and for people who have died.The Liturgy of the SacramentIn the Peace we greet one another with a handshake or a hug as a sign that we areall children of God and part of one family, the church.The altar, or table, are prepared and members of the congregation bring gifts ofbread and wine to the altar, along with gifts of money.In the Eucharistic prayer, the priest tells the story of the life, death and resurrectionof Jesus, including the story of the Last Supper. We ask God to send his Holy Spiritupon the bread and wine so that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.We end this part of the service by saying together the prayer that jesus taught us,the Lord’s Prayer.
Breaking the Bread and CommunionThe bread is broken so that it can be shared with all. We come to the altar as fellowChristians to receive God’s gifts of bread and wine.Prayers after Communion and the DismissalAfter the prayers, we are sent out into the world to love and help other people, andto tell others the good news of how God loves them.
Passing the PeaceThe priest says, “The Peace of the Lord be always with you,” and we reply, “Andalso with you!”Passing the peace is a very old custom, one used by the early Christians. We shakehands or hug those around us, and say to them, “Peace,” or “The Peace of theLord”. They reply, “Peace,” or “and also with you.” We are saying to others, “Hello.I’m glad we’re part of the same family, the church. May God bless you.” They replyto us, “I wish the same for you.”Jesus taught us that, since God loves all of us, we must love each other. That meanswe must treat each other with respect and generosity. Giving a sign of peace toothers reminds us that we are united in trying to follow Jesus.God loves us so much that he gave us Jesus, his Son, to die for us. And Jesus waswilling to continue teaching the message about God’s love, even though it meant thathe would be killed. His death shows how much he loves us.
The Offertory and the Great ThanksgivingWhen we share the bread and wine with others in our church family, we drawcloser to them. To show that we are one with each other, we often use one loaf ofbread. We drink from one cup of wine. This reminds us that we are united withother Christians in the one body of Christ, which is the church.We bring the bread and wine to the altar at the offertory. The bread and wine, andalso our gifts of money, represent our daily lives and our daily work. We bring toGod all that we are and all that we do. In receiving them from us, God receives ourwhole selves.Of course, we can give nothing to God that God did not make! In making offeringsto God, we are bringing them back to God with thanksgiving for all that we are andall that we have.A prayer used in some churches when the bread and wine are offered says:Blessed are you, Lord God, Creator of all things. Through your goodness we have this breadto offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us theBread of life.Blessed are you, Lord God, Creator of all things. Through your goodness we have this wineto offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our Spiritual Drink.What we offer to God, God returns to us with blessing. We receive back from Godthe bread and wine, now blessed as the body and blood of God’s Son, to strengthenus to do God’s work.
Coming to CommunionWe come quietly to the front of the church to receive the bread and wine.We usually cup our hands together as if we are making a cradle to receive the bread,the body of Christ, and raise them to our mouth to eat it. Some people make thesign of the cross before they receive the bread and wine.We drink a small sip from the cup of wine, the blood of Christ. Or we dip the pieceof bread into the wine.After we receive the bread and wine, we can say, “Amen” as a way of thanking Godfor this great gift.We can receive communion either kneeling or standing. When we kneel, it is a signof respect for God. When we stand, it is a sign of thanksgiving to God for God’sgreat gifts to us. If you are small it is a good idea to stand so that you can receive thebread and wine easily.After we receive communion, we go quietly back to our places. We sit or kneel, andsay thank you to God.Anyone who is baptized may now receive communion in our church. Sometimesthere are classes for children to help them understand what is happening in theEucharist. Perhaps you are getting ready to make your first communion. That is avery special day, when you first share in the family meal of the church.
Sending OutWhen the Eucharist ends, we are sent back into the world outside the churchbuilding. We are told. “Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.” We reply, “In thename of Christ. Amen!” or “Thanks be to God!”God sends us out, strengthened by the Eucharist, to tell others about God’s love.God wants us to try to make things better in our world – to help others, to makethe world a safe place for everyone, to bring justice and fair play, to be peacemakers.This is not easy to do. We need God’s help. We need the help of other members ofour church family. We come back to church each week to receive strength to doGod’s will.
Communion all around the worldChristians all around the world meet together each week to celebrate the Eucharist.People of all nations, all races, all ages share this family meal. They meet in churchesand in homes and schools. The bread and wine are brought to people who are sickin hospital or at home when they are not able to attend the church service.The Eucharist can be a happy celebration, for a birthday or a wedding or a specialevent. It can be a more quiet celebration when we are sick or sad. It is a service forbeginnings – a new job, a new year, a new baby. It is a service for endings – sayinggoodbye, coming to the end of a year, a funeral at the end of an earthly life.There may be hundreds of people at a communion service in a big church or hall.There may be only two or three people in a quiet room. But we know that we aretaking part in something that is bigger than the people gathered there.When we come to the Eucharist, we are taking part in something Christians havedone for almost 2000 years, as a way of bringing Jesus and the new life close to us.We are joining with millions of Christians all around the world.
The Eucharist is a SacramentJesus was a great teacher. He talked to people about things they could see and hear– the flowers of the field, the birds in the air – to tell people about God’s love forthem. Once he picked up some mud and put it on a blind man’s eyes to make himsee again. Jesus was very comfortable with ordinary things, and he used to help uslearn to understand ourselves and our relationship to God.A sacrament uses something quite ordinary – something we can see and touch – tobring God’s special gifts to us. In baptism, we use water to bring God’s gift of newlife to us. In the Eucharist, we use bread and wine to bring God’s grace and loveamong us.The Catechism defines a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward andspiritual grace”. In other words, something we can see and touch changes the waywe live our lives. It makes us value God’s world, and everything and everyone in it.We are called to prevent suffering and destruction, to care for our world, and tohelp others who are in need, as Jesus did.In the Eucharist we can see the priest take the bread and wine and we can hear thewords of the prayers. But through the bread and wine and the prayers somethinghappens that we cannot see. The bread and wine are transformed by God’s Spiritinto a way of sharing God’s love for us. They bring the death and resurrection ofJesus very close to us.The sacraments invite us to use all our senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell,movement – in the worship of God. We can see the actions at the altar. We cansmell the candles and the flowers, hear the music and the prayers, touch and tastethe bread and wine. We move about the church, and stand and kneel for worship.The sacraments remind us that God speaks to us through everyday things.
Names for the Family MealChristians call this service by many different names. Each name helps us tounderstand more about the meaning of this sacrament.The Eucharist is a Greek word meaning thanksgiving. We give thanks to God forGod’s great gift of new life, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.The Lord’s Supper reminds us that this is the Christian family meal. Jesus sharedthe Last Supper with his disciples, the night before he died, and asked us to continueto meet together to share this meal.The Holy Communion tells us that receiving the bread and wine – the body andblood of Christ – brings us into communion with God and each other. In otherwords, it brings us closer to God and to each other. We share this sacrament withother people in the Christian community.The mass is a name that comes from the Latin phrase, Ite, missa est. This means, Go!You have been sent. When Latin was used in church for several hundred years, thesewords were said at the end of each service. We come to the Eucharist to bestrengthened, so that we can go out and help others and tell them the good newsthat God loves them. We still use the name mass, particularly at Christmas, whichmeans Christ mass.
Eucharist wordsearchR E T H A N K S E F P U T C EO U S V L K L C G C R A R R UQ C I P E N I W O L A Y T H IZ H W E R L E M H S Y L Z E GX A W A A I M C R E E D K E NY R P H K U E S R Y R M C C FA I C T N C G S U U G A N I BA S M I K L C F T T E S H V FI T O X O F J H B P C S X R AD N Y R O T R E F F O N H E HI A I S F R E P P U S Y A S RD A E U P B E Y H N M O A S AR Y T R E K N G L N T G Q M TY V Y A B H D Z B A S G S C LT V D H U V U T R S S L L F AALTAR BREAD CHALICE COMMUNIONCREED EUCHARIST GLORIA HYMNMASS OFFERTORY PATEN PEACEPRAYER PRIEST SANCTUS SERVICESUPPER THANKS WINE
Here are some activity ideasI If you already receive communion, find out the date on which you made your first communion Draw a picture of your church family. Include people of all ages
Read the story of the Last Supper in the Bible. Imagine you are a child at that Supperand write a story about what it was like. Draw a picture of some of the things you are thankful for
Learn a grace to say before a meal and say it with your family if you can If you have servers at your Eucharist service, ask them what they do
Tell, or write, about a special meal that you have shared with others – it could be for a birthday, anniversary, holiday or other event Make an invitation card to ask someone to come to the EucharistWrite your own activities in these!