I have seen so much beauty and wonder accompany the Eucharist. Maybe not as much as I saw this past Sunday.
With a toddler in my arms, I rose as soon as the invitation was extended and went to receive the bread and wine. My desperation for Jesus was too intense to wait and piously reflect in the seat. I just needed Him. Not in two minutes, not in one. I needed Him then and there by whatever means.
When I returned, I found my 7-yr old son distraught and on the verge of tears. My wife had joined the communion line. Our older daughter, who I baptized just last year, went with her. My wife and I have decided that our kids will wait on taking the Eucharist until baptism (not a conviction we would hold others to, but one I feel fairly confident in).
My 7-yr old loves Jesus, but he has not yet been baptized.
He wanted the bread (not the wine, so much). Oh, for that bread. He was hungry. I sort of wanted to correct his attitude: we do not take communion because we want a snack. I thought better of it. Hunger is real. The bread is real. The tangibility of it all is intentional. I explained to him again the meaning of the elements. In childlike, innocent fashion, the little guy’s desire for a snack, his preferential love for our church’s style of communion bread, and his yearning for Jesus were all bound together quite beautifully. Beautifully and tragically… since his Dad has this policy of no pre-baptism Eucharist.
By denying him the bread (he still had no interest in the wine), he seemed to think I was denying him of something more. And I was. I shared the Gospel with him again, affirmed to him Christ’s love. That bread is for you, little guy. It is yours. Jesus wants you to feast on it, to never get tired of it, to munch it and taste it over and over again. It is for you… forever. But I want to honor baptism as an initiating sacrament that binds one into the family of faith nurtured on the sacramental bread and cup. He was nearly in tears. The boy wanted the body of our Lord, broken for him. He was desperate. He did not want to wait two minutes. Not one minute. He needed something at that very moment.
His mother and sister returned. That 9-yr old girl stuck out her hand as she walked past to get to her seat. In one motion, her little fingers swiftly opened his and secretively placed something inside.
A tiny piece of bread.