Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Want Jesus

One of the things that changed my mind about when young people can start receiving Holy Communion was what occurred one day when I was doing my Internship at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa.
The bishop of the Iowa district called a bunch of us interns together for a day of debriefing, retreat and learning. We met at a Lutheran home for severely developmentally disabled children and young adults.
The children and young people served there were, for the most part, infantile. There was some question of whether they were aware even of their own existence.
We asked the chaplain, over lunch, what he did there. He replied that a lot of his work was with the parents, dealing with issues of God’s plan and of personal guilt over institutionalization. But, he said, he also interacted with the residents and led them in daily worship.
What, we wondered, was worship like?
“We have holy communion every day,” he said. That really got our attention.
“How could he give communion,” one in our group wondered, “to children who may not understand that they themselves exist, much less what happens in holy communion?”
Some understanding of what takes place in holy communion has been a traditional requirement for receiving the sacrament through the centuries, sometimes involving up to three years of instruction.
“Well,” he said, “I don’t know if they understand anything I say, but I do believe they all understand eating and drinking. God speaks to us all in ways we can understand and, for these children, holy communion is probably the way God speaks to them. They come to know God in the forms of bread and wine.”
One Sunday, as I was serving the elements of bread and wine, the blessing I give to children too young to receive Holy Communion in our congregation was not enough for one child. As I moved down the line, I heard him say, “I want Jesus!”
How much more does one need to know? He was not far from the Kingdom of God, or from the path God walks with anyone who receives Him, or the knowledge that, in this sacrament we receive the certainty that in Jesus our sins are forgiven in this uncertain world.
He wanted what I want. I want Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment