One Communion Sunday, Pastor John's 1st Grade daughter Sarah asked, "Daddy, why can't I have a cookie?" "What cookie?", Pastor John asked. "The cookie you gave everyone in church today", she replied. Pastor John thought about it, but he still couldn't figure out when he had given a cookie in church that morning, or any other morning. "Oh Daddy, you know; the little white cookie you gave everyone at the front of the church today. Why can't I have one of those cookies?"

Of course, Sarah was talking about the communion wafers Pastor John had given at communion that morning. But, why couldn't Sarah get a communion wafer? Because she thought it was a cookie. She didn't understand, this "cookie" was the "body of Christ", given for us, for the forgiveness of sins. "This is the body of Christ, given for you", Pastor John said. This is the body of Christ, given for you, for the full satisfaction of all your sins. It was the precious gift of forgiveness, given by Jesus, on the cross. It was not a cookie.

If Pastor John had given Sarah a communion wafer, it would not have hurt Sarah. But it would not have helped her either. She would not have understood the great sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for her, or feel the forgiving presence of Jesus. She would not have partaken of the body of Christ, given for her, for the full satisfaction of her sins. She would have merely eaten a little white cookie, and not a very good one.

1st Corinthians tells us, "Anyone who eats and drinks the Supper, without understanding the body, eats and drinks judgment on themselves." (1 Corinthians 11: 29) In other words, for us to truly participate in the Lord's Supper, and receive the gift of forgiveness that the Lord's Supper gives, we have to understand that the bread is the body of Christ. If we don't understand that, if we don't remember that Jesus gave His body on the cross to forgive us; then we might as well be eating a cookie.

Ever since I was a child, the tradition in the Lutheran Church has been to have first communion, when we feel the children are old enough to understand the significance of the Lord's Supper. The kids receive their bread and wine for the first time, when they realize it is the body and blood of Christ, and not a cookie. On Sunday, October 2, we will celebrate first communion at Bethlehem. The young people, after first communion classes, will for the first time receive the bread and wine, and understand that it is the body and blood of Christ, and not a cookie.

Pastor Ron