Concrete Communion

My seven-year-old son is smart. He’s also autistic and a very concrete thinker. Lately he’s been thinking through the Lord’s Supper. During communion when I repeat Jesus’ words, “This is my body,” he will sometimes blurt out, “It’s not a body, it’s just bread!” We’ve had several conversations about the subject. They go something like this:

Sam: Dad, tell me about the bread.
Dad: Well, it represents Jesus.
Sam: It’s not a body, it’s bread.
Dad: That’s true, but it shows us that Jesus is the bread of life, and that we are to live on him.
Sam: On top of him?
Dad: No, Son. It means that he’s the source of our life.
Sam: Is there gluten in it? (Sam is on a gluten-free diet)
Dad: Yes, there is.
Sam: What about the cup? Is it gluten-free?
Dad: Yes, it is.
Sam: But it’s not blood, it’s wine.
Dad: That’s correct.
Sam: Why do you say it’s blood?
Dad: Well, Jesus said, “This is the new covenant in my blood.” It reminds us that he shed his blood for us.
Sam: Oh. But it’s not blood. And there’s no gluten in it.
Dad: That’s right.
Sam: Now, tell me about the bread again. It’s not a body, right?

And on it goes. I think a lot about the Lord’s Supper – what it means, what it is – but I think I’ll understand it sufficiently when I can explain it to my son.

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15 responses to “Concrete Communion

  1. It is surely a great blessing that Sam was in the room to observe the service. Unfortunately in many churches, children his age are routinely banished to childrens church.

  2. I feel you Rob. Miles routinely refers to his eating the body of Jesus and drinking His blood, though not without a perplexed tone and screwed up face (though this doesn’t stop him from eagerly gnawing on Jesus every week). He thinks it’s weird. In full sympathy with him, I just quote John 6 to him: “Where else shall we go? These are the words of eternal life!”

  3. My grandson does NOT have a concrete mind. He thinks in concrete terms.
    The concrete mind belongs to his daddy! 🙂
    I’m so glad he is getting Rob to understand the Lord’s Supper. He’s such a good boy.
    Rob ain’t half bad either,…….are ya?

    ed

  4. Sam also is very concerned about another very biblical idea – circling up to pray. What trauma have you inflicted upon the young Sam so that he fears this biblical pattern? 🙂

    BTW thanks for warning me about the whole, “its just bread thing” prior to my spur -of- the -moment first run at administering communion. My little mind was spinning!

  5. Dan, I don’t know what his deal is with circles. Sometimes the oddest things just don’t work for him (we make him do them anyway…and he invariably gets past it). And you handled his statement very well. I’ve actually mentioned your response several times in conversations…it was quite profound (although, it didn’t really clarify things for Sam – heh).

  6. Ed N,

    It is actually two different incidents. The circles refers to Sam’s aversion to sitting in a circle in Sunday School. He finds it somewhat out of order. He doesn’t say exactly why, but he makes it clear that it is not his preference.

    During the Lord’s Supper a few weeks ago Dan quoted Jesus saying, “This is my body.” To which, Sam said, “It’s not a body. It’s bread.” Dan, quickly and rightly said, “Well, Sam, this is what Jesus said, and he didn’t say a lot to explain it, but we believe what he said.” (or words to that effect).

    Sam doesn’t know much theology, but he knows enough to keep us on our toes.

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