St James Ministry Team

A blog from the Ministry Team of St James Church, Colwall, Herefordshire, UK

2006-09-25

Children at Communion

My brother suggested that I read John Pridmore's column on the Sunday readings in the Church Times of 22 September. I've never looked at it before, but I'm glad I did this time.

This week's Gospel (Mark9, 30-37) tells how Jesus stands a child in the middle of his disciples and says that to welcome such a child is to welcome him, and indeed to welcome God. John Pridmore reminds us that the Gospel will be venerated and acclaimed by all present at the service, so much so that "you'll get the impression that this story is meant to be taken seriously". But as the children later come to the altar and are given a blessing but not the bread, their welcome is only second best. The church's regulations are, it seems, more important than the Gospel, and so children continue to be maginalized at the eucharist.

"Jesus's estimate of children," he continues, " is not based on the qualities we like to attribute to them - their openness, trustfulness, spontaneity, insight, whatever - but on their helplessness. Like the poor, with whom Jesus also identified himself, children live by grace, human and divine." We should not make children's standing at the eucharist conditional upon their understanding of something which remains a mystery for all of us. Does Jesus expect them, as the Archbishops' Council does, to "appreciate the significance of the sacrament"? As John Pridmore points out, "The child whom Jesus esteems so highly is any child, not the especially trusting, especially knowledgable, or specially perceptive child."

We should take Jesus's teaching about any child seriously.