Easter Sunday, 2015. I hadn't remembered the date until recently, but I was organizing some blog posts this week and came across a piece that mentioned the significant occasion. My daughter took her first Communion at age seven at a little Methodist church in our small town. It's not our church, but it's a church who always welcomes us. Her school teacher stood behind her in line. One member of the great cloud of witnesses.
When we walked in that Easter Sunday, and I saw the prepared Communion table, all manner of theological discussions starting forming in my head. When you're a Protestant mutt like I am, it can be hard to determine what God would have you to do about such matters as Baptism, Communion, Worship Music, and so forth. Long ago, I set aside the idea that I could land on one right answer. In this instance, I began discerning what God would have me to do right here, with my seven-year old daughter who had "prayed the sinner's prayer," been baptized at 16 months of age, and had yet to take Communion.
Lord, have mercy.
From our place in the pew, we talked about that Communion table. I asked her if she knew of its significance. In no uncertain terms, I reminded her this was a very big deal for believers. It seems to have sunk in. My girl loves taking Communion. It has always been a serious matter for her. In our own church, she's in class when the adults take Communion. She always asks me to get her early so she can partake. Her love for the Lord's Supper is pure and true.
Although the date had faded from my memory, I'll never forget the first time she heard those words:
Take, eat, this is my body broken for you.
This is my blood spilled out for you.
With all I am, this is the Christianity I want to offer our daughter. A pure love for Jesus and his church. I don't want her faith tainted with denominational spats, or unaware of how other traditions practice their Christian faith. Christian history, church calendar, spiritual practices and an understanding of Jewish influence, they all have a place in her faith development.
Further, this verse comes to mind as I consider the pure religious experience I long for her to experience.
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27
There's a sensitivity we foster for those who are on the fringe. The families who need our attention as they do the hard work of fostering and adopting. Her friends who are orphans to the church, with parents who do not belong. The widows, may I also add the singles, who deserve a place at our table too. God blesses these efforts, and they require an intentional focus. Dwell on these things.
To keep oneself unstained by the world... Oh, the church will let her down! As a human institution, it does this. We'll forget people we're supposed to love, and we'll make mistakes. But if she knows she has a place at the Lord's table, alongside every other believer, then she'll understand it's the blood stains of Jesus that make us presentable to our Father.
We're not raising our Christian daughter perfectly. Look to us as examples if you need to, but understand we're learning from Jesus as we go. There's a daily reliance on his grace and mercy. I love what I'm seeing in her though. She's got the makings of a beautiful faith.
This is the fourth post in my October series, #dwellonthesethings. Here are links to the first three: