A Letter To Church Parents Concerning Communion

Lately, I’ve had many children and parents asking me about kids taking communion during worship. I thought the most efficient way to communicate with all of you would be email.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14
“Baptized children who are being nurtured and instructed in the significance of the invitation to the Table and the meaning of their response are invited to receive the Lord’s Supper, recognizing that their understanding of participation will vary according to their maturity.” Book of Order of the PCUSA W-2.4011b
There are two schools of thought concerning children and communion. There was a time in the Presbyterian Church when children were not allowed to participate in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper until they were confirmed around the age of 12. Many parents still observe this with their children, feeling that after they go through Confirmation Class that they are better able to understand the meaning of Communion. I was not allowed to take Communion until I was confirmed and I remember receiving the Sacrament for the first time with my friends at church on Good Friday in 1990. When parents observe this “rule,” Confirmation becomes even more of a right of passage and even more reason to celebrate.
HOWEVER, the reason that the Book of Order changed is because it seems to contradict the call to not turn any believer away from the table. Some children just really want to participate–some just because it seems “neat,” but others because they really want to be part of the Body of Christ at the Table. I think that especially for families who attend the Early Service, where the service is less formal and we go forward to receive the elements, and because the older (unconfirmed) children are now staying in the 10:30 service, this may be the case. It is hard to say no to a child that really wants to participate! I remember when Elle Floyd was about 6 and we did a lesson on Communion in Sunday School, she was desperate to take Communion. Ginny and I decided that Elle had a good 6 year old understanding of Communion and let her take it. In that case, it was the right thing to do.
You, as parents, get to make the decision that is right for your children. I’m always glad to discuss Communion with your children or with you, and I know that Dr. Skelly is as well!

Wall of Wonder

At church last night, we did this thing that our new interim calls “Wall of Wonder.” We took a HUGE piece of butcher paper with a time line and several stacks of Post It Notes and everyone put the date when they joined the church, memorable moments in church history, memorable moments in world history, memorable programs in the church, and favorite hymns. It’s super cool 🙂 We’ll continue to add to it over the weeks.

At the same time, the children took part in a Black History program with some special guests. They featured several figures in black history.

Here are some pictures:

Wall of Wonder

This is a great idea for any church. It’s very visual.

February Newsletter Opener

Here is what I wrote as the opening letter for our February Newsletter here at the Presbyterian Church:

“You are no longer foreigners and aliens but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling place in which God lives by His Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22

Dear Friends,

What is the church? It may seem like an easy question, but it’s one that those of us who gather in the building at the corner of Washington and Main in Henderson must answer in the coming year. We talk about the church like it is our building. “I’m going down to the church for dinner.” “Bring your canned goods to the church.” “We need to put a new roof on the church.” Yet, the bricks and mortar that make up our building are not holy, and they are not where God’s spirit dwells.

The church is not the building, but the people. We are the church! Each one of us is a brick in something far greater than each of us could be on our own. We are called to stand with Jesus Christ, the vital cornerstone and with all of us standing together, the author of Ephesians tells us that we become a dwelling place where God lives!

We need every brick to have a strong church! Each member brings unique talents and strengths to share with the Body of Christ. Each person makes us a greater dwelling place for the Spirit of God. There is a place for you in the structure that we are building at the corner of Washington and Main. Come and join us! You’ll find us in the big brick structure with the steeple!

In Christ’s Service,

Becky 🙂

Reformed Theology and Faith

This past weekend, I had my lay ministry class. It was taught by a minister from a Presbyterian Church in Owensboro named Jonathan Carroll. It was actually very interesting! Here are some of the topics we covered:

Confessions, Creeds, and Catechisms
Scripture as the Word of God
The Trinity
Jesus (Christology)
The Work of Christ
The Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Salvation (Soteriology)
The Church (Ecclesiology)
Growing in Faith
The End toward which we move (The Reign of God)

We discussed each topic as it is found in the Bible, the Christian traditions, the Reformed viewpoint, and contemporary significance.

Visitor at Church

I did the message at both services yesterday since the pastor was out of town. It used the text from Luke 15:1-3 and 11-32 (the Prodigal Son parable). I talked first about our prodigal relationship with God but then also talked about the Father’s love and compassion and that we’re supposed to have that same love and compassion for everyone else–running out into the streets to welcome and put rings and sandals on all who are lost.

After the late service, there was a lady who was a visitor who came to the door to shake my hand and “put me in my place.” Here is what I remember about our conversation:

Her: I’m from the Church of Christ. Young lady, you need to read First Corinthians 14 and learn your place!
Me: Well, we were glad you could join us today! (great big smile)
Her: Where’s the minister today?
Me: Well, he’s on vacation.
Her: Aren’t there any men…?
I just stared at her.
Her: You need to read your Bible and find out your correct call from God.
Me: With all due respect, Ma’am, I believe that I have found my call from God.
Her: You read First Corinthians 14 and find the right one.
Me: Well, thanks for coming (even bigger smile.)

She walks out the door and I burst into tears. She went on from there to talk to another church member who informed her that our denomination has been ordaining women for a good number of years now. She told him that he should read his Bible.

All afternoon, I received many encouraging words and apologies from church members who were sorry that this woman said these things to me. I’m fine, of course. I’ve heard these arguments before and I’ve struggled with the Scriptures before. When you’re a woman working in a southern church, you are confronted from time to time by perfectly nice people who do not think that women should preach or teach in church. I had just never faced this sort of belief and attitude within the safety of my own church’s sanctuary.

Now she is a woman who is perfectly entitled to believe what she wants to believe. But so am I. And I’m a woman who believes that God does not issue me a call based on whether or not I am male or female. Who is she to sit in the same room with me for an hour and try to tell me that I haven’t heard my call from God correctly? What gives her the right to make a determination about how well I know or don’t know the Bible based only the fact that I’m a woman who stood in the front of the church and spoke?

Our choir director came to me after the whole thing, when word had gotten around about what our guest had said and he came and said, “I heard you had a visit from Satan this morning.” Everyone around me kind of laughed and he said, “No, listen, Satan comes to every church on Sunday morning. He made himself known this morning.” I understood that he wasn’t making a joke and calling this particular woman Satan, but rather that her words were intended to sow doubt and discouragement.

In Genesis 3, when Eve met the serpent in the garden, the serpent sowed doubt: “Did God really say that you weren’t supposed to eat that fruit? Are you sure that’s really what God said? Are you sure that God would really want you to not eat that wonderful fruit?” In the same way, this woman was perhaps asking, “Are you sure you have heard your call from God? Are you really sure that you know that God wants you to speak his word? Are you sure that’s what God would really want–for you to do it?”

Well, I’m a little wiser and a little more resolute in my beliefs, rather than doubting or discouraged.

I’m not saying that this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me–or even a terrible thing at all. It’s not as if I really have any reason to feel marginalized or angry. After all a great many groups of people besides women have been treated far worse than this. I don’t think it needs to be a huge issue–I know that it’s not for our church. But I do think that I have the right to feel that I am just as worthy of a call from God than anyone and I shouldn’t have to feel like maybe I’m doing something wrong just because I’m a woman. I also can look at the whole Bible and see that God has used women throughout the ages to bring about his truth, his justice, and his kingdom to earth.

Oh, and I’m giving the message at next Sunday’s early service. The Scripture? First Corinthians 14.

Church History and Doctrine: The Early Church and Our Church

That was the topic of this weekend’s Lay Pastor class. I go once every other month to take this class in Hopkinsville over a weekend. There are 12 classes before graduation. Then you choose what to do with your certification. Some people just take the class to learn. Others take it so they can be commissioned as a lay pastor. I’m not sure why I’m taking it yet, but I’m completely enjoying it. This was class number 7 for me ( you jump in whenever and the 12 session sequence continues to repeat–kind of like when I took Driver’s Ed class).

Here are some topics we covered and some people you can do some research on:

1. The early church and our church–differences and similarities
2. Constantine
3. The Council of Nicea
4. The Doctrine of the Trinity
5. Augustine
6. The Cappodocians
7. Hildegard of Bingen
8. Julian of Norwich
9. Jesus Prayers–Centered Prayers–Breath Prayers
10. Factions of the Church: Roman, Orthodox, Oriental (no longer exists in th same form), Reformed