Once he or she has graduated the class? Eighth grade or teenage years? Well, Martin Luther’s answer may surprise you! The Small Catechism teaches us, “That person is truly worthy and well prepared (for the Sacrament of the Altar) who has faith in these words: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’” No age or grade is even hinted at. What’s required? Only faith in the simple and clear Words of Christ, “given and shed for you.”
During the Reformation in the 16th century it was common for children of a tender young age to be receiving the Lord’s Supper in the Lutheran Churches. It was only a couple hundreds year later that the average age of first communicants was increased during the age of Rationalism.
At LMC the congregation has welcomed the opportunity for confessing young Christians to receive the gifts of Christ. The elders after careful study have discouraged the practice of requiring a certain age, grade level, or arbitrary requirement for admittance to the Lord’s Supper.
If a child has a basic understanding of the holy Christian faith, confesses the chief parts of the Catechism, and indicates a desire to receive the Lord’s Supper, there is no scriptural reasons why the gifts of Christ should be withheld from that child.
If your child is confessing the faith found in the words of the Small Catechism, and indicates a desire to receive the Sacrament of the Altar, please contact me for a visit. I can lovingly examine them in the faith, either providing additional encouragement, absolving, and if prepared an invitation to commune with Christ’s gathered guests. The Lutheran Confessions teach us “The Sacrament (Lord’s Supper) is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXIV, 249:1).
Loving and patiently pray the catechism daily with your children. Come to catechism class on Tuesday nights for instructions to be reinforced. At home show the children how precious the words of it are to you. Familiarize your child with “Christian Questions with Their Answers” on p. 329-330 in the Lutheran Service Book. With those questions they can familiarize themselves with the sorts of questions I will ask during our examination.
The Lord’s Supper is for those who confess their sins in repentant faith and believe in Christ and the words of the New Testament: “This is my body, which is given for you…this cup is the new testament in My blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” It’s simple really.
Lord God, heavenly Father, in Holy Baptism You began Your good work in our catechumens, and You have blessed their instruction and training in Your Word. We implore You to pour out Your Holy Spirit on their hearts and minds so that they will truly love and revere You, confess the faith with joy and boldness, endeavor to live according to Your commandments, and praise and glorify You as their Faith God and Lord, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.