Today we celebrate First Communion with twenty-nine young boys and girls. This day brings me back to my own First Communion. I, along with Billy Rowekamp were the smallest kids in our class so we had the distinction of leading all the children into church—setting the right pace, all the while making sure to keep our heads down and our hands folded. And then we had the special task of starting the special prayers we recited together before we received communion as well as the prayers we said after communion. And then there was the party at home. Our family had the tradition of celebrating weddings and First Communion. So aunts and uncles and cousins would be invited to a dinner at our home.
First Communion is about special memories and I hope that all our first communicants will treasure the memory of this day. But, of course, First Communion is about more than just creating memories. We come together as a community with these young boys and girls because we are initiating them into a community. We come to know God by being connected to a community and we are saved by being in community with one another. Our faith journey is not a “me and God” kind of thing. Rather it is “we and God.”
Today, in coming together as a community, we are making the message of Jesus visible to our first communicants. We proclaim that Jesus is Lord, not our individual country or even our flag. We proclaim that sharing from the abundance we have and learning to live simple rather than hording wealth is the path to happiness. We proclaim that suffering and living non-violently rather than aligning ourselves with power is the path Jesus calls us to follow.
That’s an awful lot for anyone to comprehend, let alone the young minds of our young boys and girls. But that’s ok. They don’t have to understand it completely. When they see us living out these beliefs, letting them influence how we act and relate to our world, they will understand. When we come again and again to be fed at the Table of the Lord, the way of life we proclaim through these beliefs will become second nature to us.
So, celebrate well. Make many memories today. Then, come and join us again and again, as together we make the presence of God real by what we say and do!