What’s Wrong With Allowing Kids to Take Communion?
At church this week I was sitting behind three girls from our House of Moses home and a friend of theirs from the village. Typical girls – giggling during the sermon, fidgeting during the sharing time, not praying out-loud during the intercession time, not offering anything to the small circle without severe prodding during the final “what did you get from the sermon” time… But in all, I was impressed with them. They are great girls – Sharon, Loveness, Melody, and their friend, [??} .
But the moment when they showed their true colors is when they went up for communion. I sat in my seat and watched as they respectfully stood in line. This is a holy moment and no levity or casualness was evident in their demeanor. They were appropriately sober.
As they approached the place where they would take the elements – a piece of bread which they dip into the chalice of sugary tea – Sharon, the 13 year old, was holding hands with Melody, the 3 year old, and helping her to carefully take a piece of bread and dip it, and then to hold it carefully in her hand as they walked back to their seats.
Then the glory came down! Those four girls sat down, right in front of me, and did what they do every week – they bowed their heads together and Sharon instructed their friend from the village how to pray before they ate the elements, and then led them in a quiet prayer. I wept.
Who says that kids can’t take communion!?
Since we started planting churches 10 years ago in a cross-cultural setting (with lots of demonic traditions and unbiblical understandings – both Zambian and American!) we have determined to do things as strictly scriptural as we can. We don’t want to incorporate American traditions into our liturgy – nor Zambian. So we are forced to examine all of our traditions in the searching light of scripture.
No doubt about it – in apostolic times, communion was the center of their weekly, if not daily, meetings. And Jesus’ teaching – “…as oft as you eat this…” leads one to believe he envisioned more oft than quarterly! So about two years ago we decided to do communion weekly.
Then about a year ago we started discussions about whether to allow children to partake. Here’s the crux: there is no biblical evidence to say one way or the other. The house mama’s, because of their holiness traditions, scared the children so bad – when we would serve communion they would all scamper over and hide behind the mama’s skirts!
The scripture that has most regulated how to do communion was where Paul said, “Don’t eat or drink unworthily, for the one who does that eats and drinks condemnation to himself.” Because of that verse the common understanding is: No Christians who have sinned recently. No kids below a certain age. And for sure no unbelievers! These are unworthy and will break out in boils for sure! Possibly die!! (When I was a kid my mom had me convinced that if I went to bed with anger in my heart I would wake up with boils! Same story, different verse…) So when we first started taking communion only the white people, and perhaps one or two of the more saintly Zambians would enjoy the benefits.
As we started asking God to show us the heart of communion and the spirit of His Thinking in the Bible, we came to understand that the Lord’s Table is an invitation to healing, to Life, to forgiveness – it’s His embrace of his family. Communion is his gift to an unworthy, broken world. The real “unworthy” person – the only one who should not take communion – is the person who is unrepentant or doing a religious action without seeking the One who’s body was indeed broken and blood spilled. If anyone is thirsty, let him come and drink!
The paradigm has shifted. Now we experience the Lord’s Table as an invitation to the sinner, the saint, the child and the old – an invitation to come closer to Jesus, to come and receive repentance and forgiveness. It’s an embrace from a loving Father for the child. It is a balm for the wounded sinner. It is a chance every week for us to examine, repent, and jump into the stream of Living Forgiveness!
The Mandate discipleship school was here for seven weeks and just left. Thanks guys for all the work on the base, the prayer and ministry in the villages, the work in Mbangwetta Village and repairing homes destroyed by the floods… We will miss you!
The last 5 years we have had drought. This year is making up for it! Mud houses melt in this kind of rain. Our church has stepped up nobly. The young Zambian leaders have dug into the coffers and are mobilizing work crews for the crisis. Pray for us – we have another month of rainy season.
This month we will say goodbye to three of the most amazing workers we have ever had. Josiah Wenger – son of our Oregon pastor, and son of my heart – we will miss you. And Jake and Tammy Bumstead – our children who have given a year of their lives to be a blessing to mom and pop – how will we continue without you? Our hearts are sore just thinking about it. Please pray for God’s comforting hand to uphold Dan and Regina. And for these three as they make the difficult adjustment back to that other world.
But Sarah Porter is back! Truly an angel sent for us. And our shrinking team will soon be rehydrated with 2-4 new Zambian workers that we are now evaluating thru the ropes course to see how they perform. Pray for wisdom as we make crucial decisions ahead. Our work is growing and requires good workers. Pray that God would send Western workers with a heart to serve, and provision to support Zambian workers. If you are led to invest into some amazing young developing national leaders, we could really use the help!
Speaking of amazing national leaders! Aaron and Jen Mulenga and Charles Mwila, from our northern base, are the real deal. Here is another chance to invest in amazing leaders who are pouring out sacrificially. And the Twashuka Community School they started 3 years ago now has 7 grades and 6 volunteer teachers with zero income, just the books and materials visitors bring when we visit, but hearts full of love for Jesus and commitment to serve Him no matter! Here, either a church could adopt the project – probably $300/mo; or 6 individuals sponsor a teacher each, at $50. Pray that God will open up Heaven’s windows on them.
And we have PIGS!! Benjamin and Allison Attema joined us in November and they have thrown themselves into the work with abandon! They are living in the village full time, Allison is heading up a lot of the Education programs, Benjamin is heading up the Sustainability Pig project, and they are both super efficient at house church planting (besides a plethora of other things!) We are so blessed with their presence. News flash: Please pray, their long-term work permit was just denied! We are awaiting word on our recent appeal. Please pray for favor from the government.
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