Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Communion

When I was growing up, and until we moved away from my hometown 8 years ago, we attended a church that celebrated foot washing during Easter week. I didn't realize until adulthood that my church, and my denomination, were unique in this practice. I can remember first experiencing it from the sidelines; not being able to participate until after freewill baptism. It always seemed a bit awkward, the women being separated from the men, gathering with other female participants, some first removing stockings, others putting their feet in the basin, stockings and all. But I have also been drawn to this tradition and to its message of servanthood and humility. To participate in a ritual that Jesus practiced the night that He was betrayed, washing the dirty and dusty feet of all of His disciples, even the one who would betray Him. I remember my mom telling me that rather than seeking out a friend for foot washing, she always looked for another woman who seemed to be standing off to the side, alone. She would then approach that woman to wash her feet.

As I remember these experiences, I'm drawn to the faces of the little ones watching. There's power in watching, but there's also power in participating, even if we don't exactly "get it" at the time. Because we are all on a journey. Even as adults, some of us "get it" more deeply than others.

The same is true of communion, another tradition of Easter week. Some churches practice this weekly, others on a more limited basis, but all as they lead into Easter Sunday. It was on the day we now know as Maundy Thursday, that Jesus, and all of the Jewish population, sat down to celebrate Passover. The youngest Israelites weren't barred from this meal, they weren't just observers, they were participants. The youngest member of the family even held a very important role, that of asking why this night was special. God had ordained the celebration of Passover to help His people remember, to pass on the story from one generation to the next so that they would never forget the way He saved them from the slavery of Egypt.

The night that Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples, He changed the meaning of the service forever. He told His disciples that it would forevermore be a reminder of His shed blood and broken body, all for a different kind of freedom. This time, He was saving His people from the slavery of sin. His death and resurrection would bring us eternal freedom. Again, He gave us the gift of symbolism and celebration to help us remember, to pass the story from generation to generation so that we would never forget His saving act and our abundant life.

I don't know when or where the tradition of communion, in many churches, became for members and adults only. If children were such a vital part of the Passover celebration, why are they excluded from communion? The answers are intellectual and varied. But we have determined that communion is intended for our children. Do they completely understand the first time around? No. Do I completely understand after having been served communion many times through the years? No. But the eyes and ears of our little ones are picking up more than we realize. In some ways, maybe they "get it" more than we do.

I recently read the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. While the book is not about communion or Passover, it was while reading that we found a great idea for sharing communion with families around us. Todd Burpo, a pastor, told how his family opens up their church during Easter week, and invites families to share communion together in a very informal, come and go, atmosphere. The idea fit so well with our idea of communion that I passed it along to the Good Doctor. We decided to open our home on Maundy Thursday and invited several families to come at different times to share in the act of communion. We also spent time in prayer, blessing each family and praying for specific requests.

For us, it was an evening of remembering Passover, the last supper, Jesus' death and resurrection. As we prepared the communion bread,

I loved listening to our seven year old, who has now participated in various forms of intergenerational communion for 3 years, tell her five year old sister the story of Moses and of Passover, of Jesus and of Easter. As each family came and we talked together, our five year old was often the one who would then tell the visiting children a bit of the story. Did she and the other children understand all of it? No. But I was reminded, even as the youngest children just sat on a parent's lap, playing with an empty cup, that they were already learning from observing. Next year, they will understand a little more, and each year following.

As one father of a four year old wrote later that night, "I just wanted you to know how much we enjoyed spending some special time with your family this afternoon! You truly impacted us all. Our four year old just had such a beautiful prayer at bedtime tonight. I know I will not get it word for word, but it went something like, "Thank you so much for that delicious bread that was your body and that juice that was your blood." Praise the Lord! Thank you for being so generous in opening your home, spending your time, and being obedient to what God asked of you. We are praying that the blessings will return to you all many times over!"

Deuteronomy 5:12 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Luke 22:19 Do this in remembrance of me.

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