Jesus often brought children in to teach adults, which seems the wrong way around. It is children (and probably not adults!) who show us how to trust and depend on a loving carer. Children also contribute life and energy, awe and wonder, playfulness and curiosity into any community. In Mark 9, Jesus says that when we welcome children, we are in fact welcoming Him.
As part of our welcome to children, I wanted to share one idea. The traditional practice of the church of England is not to offer communion to children until they are confirmed (normally aged 11+) if they were baptised as children. Most children in church receive a blessing at the communion rail. However, it is possible for a church to get permission from the Bishop to offer communion to baptised children before confirmation. I think this would be a great idea for our church – a way of including our children in the “family meal” with everyone else. When we baptise children we welcome them into the church family, and so I feel it is right they should be allowed to receive communion too. Other Christian traditions have also had this practice throughout history and around the world.
How would this work practically? At the communion rail parents or carers would be given an extra wafer to break and give to their child. The child is not receiving the bread on their own, but respectfully from the hands of their parents or carers. None of this would be compulsory. It would be down to each set of parents to decide this for their kids, and some training and dialogue with the vicar would be offered in each case. Of course, once confirmed when they are older the children would then be receiving communion – both bread and wine – on their own.
If you have any views either way, please do let me know. And, by the way, I am hoping that in 2019 we will have some confirmations too so do let me know if this is something you or any older children would like to explore.
David Maclure (firstname.lastname@example.org)