Trying to explain the symbolism of the bread and juice that are taken for communion to a preschooler or toddler can be quite confusing and even frightening. The words, "We're going to eat his body? Eww, yucky!" are sure to have been uttered a time or two. A young child may not be able to grasp the deep implications of the Last Supper, but there are some valuable lessons to take away from this important Bible passage.
1. Eating Together
The Last Supper that Jesus ate with his disciples was a Passover feast. Mark 14:12 to 26 tells the story of Jesus breaking the bread. Little ones can learn the importance of eating meals together because Jesus made it so important. It doesn't have to be first century Jewish food either, anything kid-friendly will do. Be sure to have some bread and break it into pieces for each child to have some. Use this as a time to explain togetherness -- the bread was one and became many pieces. Help the kiddos see the connection.
2. Always Remember Jesus
Jesus said “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24. Rephrasing this for the kids could go something like this, "This is like my body, which is for you, do this so you will remember me." Without getting too into the symbolism aspect of the bread and body, focus on remembering Jesus. Ask questions that get the kids thinking about how they can remember Jesus everyday. Use a similar approach for the juice, focusing on how Jesus gave his life for people.
3. Do Nice Things for Others
John 13:1 to 17 tells the story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet during the Last Supper. If you're feeling brave, try out a feet washing session with the little guys and see what happens. If you'd rather not, just read the story to the kids and help them see how Jesus was doing something really nice for his friends. Have the kids come up with some creative ideas that will give them opportunities to do nice, caring things for friends and family.
4. Crafts and Projects
For the bread in the feast, have the kids help make some real unleavened bread. To make it, gather 4 cups wheat flour, 1/4 cup honey, 3/4 cup margarine, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Combine the ingredients, knead for a few minutes. The tots will love the kneading part. Make 1-inch thick circles and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. As a fun lead-in to the feet washing story, let the kids use finger paints on a mural, only this time with their feet. Then have them wash each other's paint-soaked feet.
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