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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A bigger piece of Jesus

It was a normal Sunday morning worship and it was time for communion. The words were said over the bread and the wine, the prayers were prayed and the congregation came forward to receive. It was unusual, however, that 8-year-old Abby had managed to elude her parents and was kneeling with three or four other children on the other side of the altar. I thought nothing of it until I was in front of her with the bread. "Abby," I said, "the body of Christ given for you." She took it in her hand, looked up at me with big eyes and asked, "Can I have a bigger piece of Jesus, please?"

Had Abby's parents been by her side that morning, there would have been a flurry of apologies. As it was, she was surrounded by children, so no one thought anything of it. Abby got "a bigger piece of Jesus" and her pastor got a lesson in worship plus a really great sermon illustration. Most of all, we all got a lesson on what it means to be in the community of faith where everyone learns from each other.

You see, at our church, children commune. It was a congregational decision a few years back, one that involved some controversy. Not everyone was convinced that children should receive communion at any age. There was talk about whether children really understand the eucharist, countered by discussion about whether adults fully understand the sacrament. (No one had a really good answer to that question.) When Abby and her family came to the church, communing was never an issue. She took communion from the very first time she worshiped with us. It was for her, and is for the other children, part of being the church.

Abby's "bigger piece of Jesus" reminds me of how faith grows and understanding flourishes when we gather with others for worship; when we kneel or stand side by side at the communion table; when we come together as the body of Christ, the church. What we know and understand about God becomes magnified, enriched, "super-sized" as we share with each other what we know and understand about God and how God comes to us. This is no small, portion-controlled God we serve. This is a God who knows and understands when we, like Abby, need "a bigger piece of Jesus." 


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