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Children at Eucharist

Church Signs
Interesting artwork outside the church building

I strongly advocate for all ages and all stages to, as much as possible, gather around God’s table [See, for example, my chapter Children at the Eucharist in my book Celebrating Eucharist]. On holiday, I happened to go to church at St Andrew’s, Plimmerton, which had a way (I have not seen before) of helping pre-reading children to focus during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Firstly, some other positives about this church:

  • A website which actually had the service times easy to find. And the times were correct.
  • A welcoming community when I did walk in (no – I wasn’t recognised; they would have greeted anyone this way)
  • Clear signs on the church building also indicating the correct information
  • A large sign on the door “This church is open each day for prayer and quiet reflection”  [and the building was open daily]
  • A very good use of the projector system which did not give the feeling that we were addressing a screen rather than God, the leader, each other
  • A way of running the service which did not feel like we were moving between the real-and-relaxed parts of the service and changing gears to the “formal”/”fixed”/”required” parts of the service – it all felt like a single, connected whole.

Early in the service, the children had gone out to an adjoining space for their own Liturgy of the Word. When they came back in, the young children went and squatted in front of the altar. Each received a (plastic ice-cream) container with six laminated images. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the presiding priest, Rev. Pete Watson, would hold up an image at the appropriate point (in a low-key way), and each child would find that card in her/his hand and put it through the slot on the lid into his/her container.

There were six cards: offertory; bread; wine; Holy Spirit (epiclesis); Lord’s Prayer; breaking of the bread. Older children helped the littlest ones. All happened quietly and reverently.

Talking with Pete afterwards (yes – he knows I’m blogging about this & is comfortable about that), he suggested six cards is not enough (they have only just begun the practice) – I can imagine adding creation/nature for in the Preface; Holy, Holy, Holy;and others… I’m sure that, in your own context, you’ll be able to think of ways of adapting this great practice. [I immediately thought – it worked fine in the relaxed context of St Andrew’s, but, elsewhere, someone other than the presider might simply hold up the appropriate card if children need this guidance]. And, if you would like to discuss this with Pete, he’s agreed that people contact him.

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10 Responses to Children at Eucharist

  1. I’ve actually done something a bit similar with my kids when on school holidays I’ve taken them to the delightfully spiky-but-contemplative Anglo-Catholic weekday Low Mass that I attend. I printed out booklets for them of Martin Travers’s beautiful “Pictures of the English Liturgy” so they can match the pictures with what the priest and server are doing at key moments. They particularly like the pages with sacring bells, which go with what they’re hearing in the moment. (And we ought to remember that sacring bells were a medieval way of helping *grown-ups* follow what the priest was doing.)

    The priest was so taken with the idea that he said he was going to produce his own booklets with the High Mass pictures for use by children on Sundays (with the option of colouring them in between page turns).

    Travers’s pictures are here:

    http://anglicanhistory.org/images/travers/low/low.html
    http://anglicanhistory.org/images/travers/high/high.html

    • Wow, Jesse! Yes, I know these pictures (I’m sure I have these somewhere on my book shelf – come and spend time with us helping me sort my books!) My “wow!” was because your point reminded me of an early booklet we produced with a similar idea (with more generic pictures 🙂 ) I must try and dig it out (see previous point about my books) and see if I can put this as a resource (or an idea for people to make their own resource) on this site. Blessings.

  2. Thanks Bosco, lovely to have you with us. To give a bit of context for you for the artwork outside – this was from Lent last year. Each word represents each Sunday in Lent, beginning with adventure for the 40 days in the wilderness through to follow for Palm Sunday and the journey towards the passion narrative. Ending with forgiveness for Easter Sunday. Each Sunday we had a sign post on the altar, then carried it out and drilled it up as we left the church. It helped the community of faith find sign posts in lent for their Own lives. We often put different things in that public space to engage with the community, this once ended up staying as people feel it is very much like a village green signpost. People still stop and take photos of it and look at it from he coffee shop across the road, so was a good result for public theology at the grass roots 🙂

    • Thanks, Pete. You were quick to discover the post about you and your community 🙂 Well, as you can see, I was one of those who “took a photo of it” (and, yes, I did have a drink at the coffee shop across the road, too). Blessings.

  3. Hi Bosco,

    I see the Church of England (UK) has produced a couple of Eucharistic prayers for Children (Additional Eucharistic Prayers).
    Is there anything similar approved for use in NZ?

    Also, could one use a UK CoE Children’s Eucharistic Prayer in an Anglican church in NZ?

    Cheers,

    • Yes to both of those questions, John. You should find the NZ-approved ones on the Church’s provincial website. And all Anglican-authorised Eucharistic Prayers (from wherever in the Anglican Communion) can be used in NZ following the (formulary) An Alternative Form for Ordering the Eucharist. Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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