When our community went on retreat, we ended our time together with worship. We shared Holy Communion in a big circle. First the bread went around—and you received and then you shared it with the person next to you. Then the wine came around the circle. One of our brilliant seminarians suggested that we arrange ourselves kid adult kid adult throughout the circle. And because our gathered body included 16 kids (11 and under) and 15 adults, it worked out magically (also, thank you Luther Seminary for entrusting us with your finest). A couple observations. It takes quite a big of time to share communion this way. And it isn't without risk. Anything can happen—particularly among the youngest worshipers.
But I also witnessed gorgeous things. Like, one youngster was feeling under the weather. Her mom held the bread and wine for her so that she could still participate but not share germs. Another of our youngest has incredible enthusiasm for the gift of communion. When he serves bread, it comes with full body excitement—arms swooping the bread into your hand and exclamation of “YEA JESUS.” There are the adults who step in and support small hands on a heavy chalice-not taking over but giving help when needed.
And finally, there is the three-year-old who is at the end of this long process. She receives the bread and begins to chew. When her mom asks if she would like to serve the person beside her, she says, “When I am done chewing.” We collectively wait for her to chew. We shift and smile and wait. Her mom asks her again, “Would you like to say the words?” And our three-year-old teacher holds up her finger and says, “When I am done chewing.” I couldn't love this teachable moment more. One thing at a time. One is enough. You all can just take a few deep breaths while I finish chewing. Then, I will be ready to move onto the next thing.
Clearly, we need one another. Lucky us to be surrounded by a community that makes room for all these moments.
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.