What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.
There is such joy in the Means of Grace that God has left for us. We rejoice when we see a soul welcomed into the Body of Christ through the waters of Holy Baptism. We marvel at the gift of God’s Word when the pastor proclaims it to us. We reverently and joyfully rejoice when Christ comes directly to us when we receive His true body and true blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. Teaching our little ones about this Sacrament can be challenging, but it is so important.
When we have our children baptized, we are exhorted to “encourage them toward the faithful reception of the Lord’s Supper.”* This encouragement and teaching does not have to wait until your child is in confirmation. Let’s talk about some practical tips for teaching your preschooler about the Sacrament of the Altar.
Read to your child from the catechism.
One last time (well, at least in this series of posts), I will encourage you to read to your preschooler from the catechism. Luther answers five questions in the text that will help you teach your little one.
Focus first on the first two questions. The first question (What is the Sacrament of the Altar?), will teach your little one what is happening when someone takes Communion. The second question (Where is this written?), will take your little one back to the accounts of Jesus instituting this precious gift to the Church. It will also help your child pay attention when the pastor says these words as he consecrates the elements.
Pray with your child before and after you receive the Sacrament.
Many people pray before and after receiving our Lord’s body and blood. While many of us may pray extemporaneously during this time, consider having your child sit on your lap while you open the front cover of Lutheran Service Book and pray the prayers for “Before communing” and “Thanksgiving after receiving the Sacrament.” Your child will start to internalize the words of the prayer and see how important this meal is to us as Christians.
Take your child up to the rail with you as you receive the Lord’s Supper.
As your child is waiting upon their first Communion, bring them up to the rail with your family. The pastor will typically say a blessing over them in remembrance of their Baptism. This allows your child to see what happens when everyone goes forward. It will help your child understand that this isn’t magic; this is something that God does for us through ordinary means. He takes simple bread and simple wine and delivers, to us, forgiveness through His body and His blood.
Consider using some helpful resources as you teach about Communion.
There are a lot of great resources to help teach your young child the faith. Here are some that are specifically made to help you teach about Communion.
- Follow and Do: The Lord’s Supper—The Follow and Do series teaches young children about the Six Chief Parts of the Christian faith, combining the teachings in the catechism with practical application for all aspects of daily life.
- Whisper, Whisper: Learning about Church—Rhyming text, in-sanctuary tips, and engaging, colorful illustrations help children up to age 4 understand the rituals and routine at church. Optional activities are provided to help children focus their attention and to remind them about their behavior. Parents can use this engaging book in the home on Saturday evening to prepare children for Sunday morning. It can also be used in the pew before service or included in children’s church “quiet” bags. Whisper, Whisper makes an ideal addition to new member/baptismal packets.
- My First Catechism: An Illustrated Version of Luther’s Small Catechism—Introduce children to the teachings of Martin Luther with My First Catechism: An Illustrated Version of Luther’s Small Catechism. This keepsake-quality book uses accounts of biblical characters joined with engaging artwork to help children relate the meaning of the Commandments, Creeds, Lord’s Prayer, and more to their lives.
- Sing the Faith CD—Words paired with music are more easily learned and remembered. With Sing the Faith, the words of the Small Catechism are set to original tunes in order to teach and aid memory of these important words.
This is not a comprehensive list, just some thoughts and ideas. What are your ideas? We’d love to hear from you below! God’s blessings as you teach your children the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).Click Here to Download Small Catechism Flash Cards
The catechism quotation is from Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, copyright © 1986 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
*The quote from Lutheran Service Book is copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved.