“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
Once a month (pre-pandemic), the church we attend serves communion at the altar rather than at stations. Members come forward and stand side by side in front of the communion table to receive bread and wine. Before they return to the pews, the pastor gives them a blessing to which congregants respond with a bow.
A few months ago, during the distribution, my children stood next to me, fidgeting and waving to their father (my husband), the pastor, as he served the communion bread. They smiled at him as he blessed them and fought over who would get to hold my communion cup. As he offered the final blessing, I began to turn away but stopped when I saw my two children bowing along with the other congregation members. With a quick look at my husband, I saw his surprised face too.
My children learned to bow after communion not from me but from watching all the other members. I can’t recall ever bowing after communion, not because I don’t agree with bowing, but because I didn’t grow up in a congregation with that specific practice. But my children are growing up here and witnessing how this community practices its faith.
To walk alongside our children on their faith journeys is a gift, but this can seem daunting when we pressure ourselves to do it all—teach them prayer, Scripture, service and giving. Especially now, during a pandemic, when many families are home together and not worshiping in churches, teaching and modeling faith may feel unattainable. Many of us are just trying to make it through the day.
Yet, I remember the image of my children bowing during worship and know that, even when we’re not physically together, we can learn from one another. Maybe our children overhear a phone call from a friend checking in, learn about members working in a hospital or grocery store, or witness someone delivering food to the elderly and homebound. When worshiping at home, our children can see that congregations are committed to sharing the good news via emails and video, doing whatever is necessary to proclaim God’s love. Through all these examples, our children can see our mighty and vibrant faith. The Spirit is working.
Since that moment at the communion table, I’ve continued noticing how my children worship and what they learn from others. I will keep doing my best to model a life rooted in Christ through prayer, service, Scripture and worship, but I also give thanks that I’m not alone in that task.
As a family, watch worship online (your faith community or maybe a different one). Talk about what you see and hear. Give thanks for the ways God’s good news is shared.
We pray for church communities navigating worship outside the church building.
We pray for families who are separated, that they will find meaningful ways to connect.
We pray for those living alone or in nursing homes, that they may feel God’s presence.
We give thanks for faith mentors who guide us.
We give thanks for stories and songs that we share together.
We give thanks for the witness of the saints, who continue to inspire and teach us.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.
With your children’s help, write to a mentor who has influenced your family’s faith. Perhaps that person is a Sunday school teacher, former pastor, member of the altar guild, nursery attendant or high schooler. Thank them for the ways they share their faith and how you’ve learned from them.