Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday First Communion Workshop

This is just about my favorite class to teach.

I started this practice about 20 years ago and only skipped the last five years because the church where I served didn't want their young people receiving the gift of Christ's Body and Blood until they were confirmed (gee could I have worded that in anymore loaded?)

Today I got to do it again after the five year break and in my dread of giving up four hours to spend with 5th graders I had forgotten how much I enjoy it and how quickly the time goes by.

It's a one day four hour preparation and then following ancient tradition, they come to the Lord's Table for the first time on Easter Sunday.

 I still use a lot of material from a really old source that I can't remember the name of the book -Augsburg Fortress, out of print from the late 80s or early 90s, back when they still thought 5th graders were smart enough to actually learn some theological concepts.  Although this year I added the new Fed & Forgiven and was happy with some of it but would never use it alone.  

I divide sessions up according the Small Catechism.  

I've made my own power points with the catechism, and material from that old book whose name I cannot remember and Brick Testament pictures of the Exodus and the Last Supper.

I make them learn the first part "What is Holy Communion?" (which I still have yet to learn the new version - maybe next year.)  To me, that is still the best, most concise defintion of Holy Communion

Holy communion is the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, given with bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself, for us to eat and drink.

I also expect them to tell me what three things make a sacrament and what are the three benefits of Holy Communion (Forgiveness of Sins, life and salvation - clap while you say it --it has a rhythm)  

We go marching outside reciting these things at the top of our voices and in Southern, German and Italian accents.

We also bake bread for Easter Sunday. 

This is the recipe I got from my first call church cookbook from Hope Lutheran Church in Madison, WI.  I like to use a rising bread to show how long yeast takes so they can understand why for the Exodus they did not have time to use leaven, but also so they understand that there is nothing particular holy about unleavened bread, bread with yeast is fine too.

Whole Wheat Communion Bread

21/2 C warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 c. soft shortening
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup light molasses, honey or brown sugar
2 C whole wheat
2 C white flour

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add shortening molasses and half the flour to the yeast, 1 cup at a time.  Beat with a spoon vigorously. 

Add remaining flour and when you can no longer beat with a spoon, knead with hands. (make sure every kid gets a chance to try knead it !)

Cover with towel and place in warm spot and let rise about an hour, until double.  Then beat down, divide into six loaves. 

Shape into ovals and flatten.  Let rise again about 1/2 hour. 

Mark with a deep cross by dipping knife in flour before each cut.  Crossways cut needs to be cut almost to the bottom to help break evenly at Communion table.    Bake for about 20 minutes.

Be sure to make an extra loaf so kids can eat it.  I had to make more when I came home today.

We also decorate a wine goblet with craft leading and stained glass window paint and then the whole family receives the wine out of the chalice they make and then they have a keepsake.  

Add a half hour lunch and run around outside or play hide and seek in the church and the time goes by pretty fast.  

And fifth graders are so precious, they still care and are not too cool for this stuff yet.    It was great to be able to do this again.


  1. Fabulous and, note that it's any news but I'm not too cool for this stuff! Easter blessings to you.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful Holy Communion preparation time.

    And why am I not shocked that your last congregation didn't want to feed their children with Christ's own precious gifts until confirmation?

  3. Very nice!

    My fifth-grade daughter took Holy Communion instruction last summer and enjoyed it.

    Typically the confirmation students serve as acolytes, but there are only four right now so they offered to let any child who had had Communion instruction serve, and to my surprise my daughter enthusiastically volunteered!

    It makes me think the congregation should offer more chances to participate in worship to older grade schoolers. Of course, I still have to remind my dot to wear matching socks on the Sundays that she acolytes. :-)