As a dad to five precious kiddos, there is nothing more meaningful to me than seeing young families come alive in faith with their kids. Over the years, I have been blessed to participate in robust and life giving Children's Ministries. Our Savior's has been blessed with an abundance of kids. Over 30% of this church is made up of young people 19 and younger. Just imagine the energy of all those young folks being engaged in faith.
All kids are our kids. Everyone at Our Savior's is a youth minister and asset builder in our young people. It takes the entire community to build up the whole Body of Christ. We need each other and our kids need all of us!
As you have heard proclaimed from the Communion Table each weekend since my arrival, "The Gifts of God are Free!" Whatever divisions or walls exist in our world they are taken away at the Lord's Table. Jesus pours out life for all and All Really Means All. It's not about age, wisdom, faith background, good works, religion, understanding, etc. It is about God and God's grace richly poured out for us. This means that everyone is fully invited to receive the gifts of bread and wine.
You may be saying, "But we were told you need to attend a class and understand what is happening in the meal in order to participate." Or, "Pastor, I needed to wait until Confirmation to participate, and so my kids should too." You are right, these statements and ways of life were put in place years ago. However it does not mean that this is the Lutheran way of life today.
Twenty years ago the ELCA as a church body approved communion for all ages. There was a discernment process, a time of study throughout the church, and then affirmation at the Church-Wide Assembly for what we now call "The Use of the Means of Grace," along with a study to assist congregations entitled, "Take This, All of You." Since that time, hundreds of congregations throughout the ELCA have been communing people of all ages. In my nearly twenty years of ministry, I have only led churches where the table is truly open to all!
The church is the gathered community that is a sign of God's promised future. The meal is poured out for all! It's not about membership, it's not about understanding, and it's not about our prescribed time. Education and instruction (our Milestone Classes) about the meal are not organized as "conditions" for receiving the meal but as responsible actions of the church for the faith formation of those who eat and drink. We offer these classes to draw us deeper into God's story of life and love for all. They are deeply meaningful markers of faith growth along the journey. We hope that everyone attends these in fulfilling the baptismal promises that we have made to one another. Open Communion does not mean that there will be an expectation that all infants/young children commune. It simply means that all are invited to the table and that receiving communion before formal instruction is acceptable. The final decision concerning the time that a child begins receiving communion rests with the child's parents or primary caregiver.
On May 3rd, 10th, and 17th, we will dive deeper into conversation regarding "The Gifts of God are Free". We will teach on this way of life during our 6:30 pm worship experience, and continue with the Q & A after worship. We look forward to experiencing this journey with you.
Blessings to all as you love and lead in faith!