“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body’” (Matthew 26:26).
When I worked at an ELCA congregation, one of my favorite things to do was gather the children preparing for first communion and bake bread with them. We’d pour the ingredients, mix the flour, stir and bake. All the while we’d talk about communion: what it means, why we use bread and wine, what happens at the communion table, what words are shared and any other questions that arose.
Communion is a very tangible sacrament. We touch and taste, we hear the words “given for you” and “shed for you,” and we see others receiving the same gifts. Much like group bread-baking, it’s a community experience.
These days I stay home with my children. At 6 and 4, they haven’t received bread and wine in worship. But that doesn’t mean my husband and I don’t talk about this sacrament with them. We tell them that, at its heart, communion invites God’s people to be fed and to then go out and feed others.
When we gather at the Lord’s table, we’re reminded that there is always enough to share—grace, forgiveness, love—and that God desires a world where all are fed. Children can understand this concept whether or not they’ve taken communion.
This month, be intentional about how you gather around food. Any time we share food with our family is an opportunity to tell the story of God feeding God’s people! Say a prayer for the people who provided the food, remember who made it and bless those hands. Take some time, too, to talk about how to share your food and feed others.
- Bake bread as a family and make extra loaves to share with neighbors. Write a note telling them that you care for them and are praying for them.
- During communion, talk to your children about what’s happening. Tell them the pastor pours the wine into a “chalice” and places the bread on a “paten.” Listen for your children’s questions and answer them to the best of your ability.
- Be intentional about setting the table for a meal in your home. As children and adults set out the plates and utensils, give thanks to God for a place to eat and share.
We pray for shelters and volunteers who help keep families safe and warm.
We pray for siblings in Christ receiving their first communion.
We pray that those who feel alone may sense God’s presence.
We give thanks for phone calls and video messages with family.
We give thanks for meals shared with family and for new recipes.
We give thanks for tables—big and small—that welcome friends and newcomers to God’s feast.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.
Research local organizations to see how you can help provide meals for families this holiday season. Perhaps your church can organize a food drive or make Thanksgiving baskets for those who are lonely or have nowhere to go.