Children don't achieve true religious understanding from lectures alone; it's also important to show them ways to put their faith into practice with their family and community. Celebrating the Eucharist is one of the most sacred rites in many Christian denominations. Children's Eucharist activities can teach kids the deep and important meaning of holy communion.
Churches often have children participate in Christmas pageants to help them understand the blessed occasion of Christ's birth, so they can picture the scene and better understand how it occurred. A Eucharist pageant reenacting the Last Supper can help children put themselves in that time and place of the first holy communion with Jesus and the apostles. Refer to Luke, chapter 22, to plan a script for a Eucharist pageant. Tell children to think about what it really must have been like, sitting at the table with Jesus, and discuss their feelings about the experience afterward.
The Eucharist is physically a piece of bread. Baking bread is an engaging and rewarding activity that gives you the opportunity to discuss many spiritual matters that relate to the Eucharist. Put the bread maker away for this; roll up your sleeves and make it the old-fashioned way. As you mix the ingredients, talk about why bread is considered an important food, and explain how it's something available to everyone, rich and poor. As you knead, discuss sayings like "breaking bread" and "daily bread." While it rises, read the story of the last supper. Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life (John 6:48); have your child consider why he would say that. Share the bread with friends and family, just as you share communion with your church members.
First Communion Banners
For some denominations, receiving first communion is a sacrament and marks a major rite of passage. First communion banners are a traditional craft in which each child designs and creates his own felt banner. No sewing is required. A child chooses a sheet of felt for a background, then cuts and glues shapes onto the felt. The child can use whatever religious symbols he wants, such as a cross, a dove or a round symbol for the Eucharist. To hang decorated banners, spread glue on a dowel just slightly longer than the width of the banner and wrap the very top edge of the banner around it, then attach a string to hang it. These banners offer children a chance to artistically express their feelings about their upcoming first communion, and provide them with a keepsake to treasure.
Celebrate the Eucharist by planning an old-fashioned procession. Get your church or Sunday school involved and let the children participate. Prepare by creating banners and getting dressed up in your Sunday best. The priest or pastor should lead the procession, and should carry the vessel containing the Eucharist reverently. Let children follow sprinkling flower petals, carrying banners or playing musical instruments. Choose a starting point (such as the Sunday school classroom) and let the procession lead right into the church and up to the altar. If you prefer to have a smaller family procession, decorate your table with white linens and flowers, and set it with bread and juice. Decorate the house with religious posters and banners your children make, then go for a walk festively through your yard or the park singing your favorite hymns together. Make it an annual feast and procession, and treat it like a holiday to show children the importance of the Eucharist.