There are two gatherings. During the first gathering, first communicants meet with the pastor to learn about the history and meaning of communion. During the second gathering, first communicants and their families share a common meal with the pastor. On the following Sunday, children receiving their First Communion are recognized during worship.
In the early church, the practice was weekly communion, and communion was offered to young children. Martin Luther, who dedicated himself to breaking down barriers to God’s sacraments and grace, believed we should have communion each time we worship. However, beginning in the 1800′s, many European theologians recommended that we receive communion on rare occasions, and that children should be offered communion at the conclusion of confirmation. These practices continued for many years; children were made to feel that they had to “earn” communion by going through confirmation.
About forty years ago, during a time of liturgical renewal, there was a revitalization of practices from the early church – those who knew and followed Jesus. We realized that the practices of the early church made more sense than the practices of certain 18th century European leaders. Some Lutheran congregations, including Redeemer, now offer communion to children when their parents feel the child is ready. Some parents received their first communion later in their own childhood and would prefer that their children respect a long standing family tradition. For this reason we encourage parents to decide “when” their children should receive communion. Your decision will be the right one for your family.