Household Faith | First Communion Preparation - Lesson Five

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About the Household Faith Series

Calvary’s Household Faith Series is a collection of lessons on a series of important faith formation topics designed for parents to lead their children through as they teach them the faith. God has given every parent the gift of being the greatest influence on the faith life of their children. The church’s role is to partner with them as they pass on the faith to their children. This Series is an attempt to do that by equipping parents with the necessary resources and lessons.


The Household Faith Series includes:

  • First Communion Preparation

  • Reading the Bible

  • Learning the Liturgy

  • Remembering Baptism

  • Learning to Pray

About First Communion Preparation

First Communion preparation consists of five lessons following the questions and answers Martin Luther puts forth in his Small Catechism.


These lessons seek to help children and students learn what Holy Communion is, what its benefits are, how Holy Communion can do what it does, and who is worthy to receive Holy Communion. It also aims to teach them about various aspects surrounding Holy Communion, like the other names it is called and what other Christian traditions teach about Holy Communion.


Each lesson makes use of readings from the Bible and Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, videos, important vocabulary words to know, and questions to reinforce and solidify learning.


In the end, we hope these lessons will help parents prepare their children and determine if they are ready to receive their first communion.

Lesson Five: Who Receives Holy Communion Worthily?

Review the following before you begin Things you’ll need for this lesson:

  • Bibles for those going through the lesson

  • A copy of Luther’s Small Catechism. If you don’t have or can’t find a physical copy, you can download the Small Catechism app in your smart device’s app store or go to https://catechism.cph.org/ to view it online.

  • An electronic device that can play YouTube videos. We’ll be using videos from BibleProject www.youtube.com/c/bibleproject/

  • A pen or pencil for recording your student’s answers at the end of the lesson

  • A sheet of paper

LEARNER GOAL: At the end of this lesson, students should understand what faith is and its importance in receiving Holy Communion. They should also know what it means to examine themselves and that repentance is not their work of turning toward God, but God’s work of turning them back to him.

NOTE TO PARENTS: You’ve finally made it to the last lesson! This one will take more time than the previous ones. In the middle of the lesson, you will be asked to pause and look up Martin Luther’s “Christian Questions with Their Answers” in your Small Catechism. If they are not included in your copy of Luther’s Small Catechism, look them up here: catechism.cph.org/en/questions-answers.html. Similarly, the lesson will end with an assessment. Both exercises aim to help you and your student determine their readiness to receive Holy Communion.


Introduction

PARENTS SAY: In lessons one through four, we learned that in Holy Communion we receive Jesus’ body and blood under the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins through the power of Jesus’ word. We also learned about God’s holy presence in this meal and that he’s eaten meals with many sinful people in his presence.


In this last lesson, we’ll learn what it means to receive Holy Communion worthily. To receive something worthily means to be right for it in the sense of being ready or prepared. Like getting ready for school in the morning or for bed at night. We’ll also learn what it means to be unprepared to receive Holy Communion.


Small Catechism Reading

Open your copy of Luther’s Small Catechism (or go to https://catechism.cph.org/) and turn to the sixth chief part entitled, “The Sacrament of the Altar” and read the fourth main question, “Who receives this sacrament worthily?” and Luther’s answer.


Review the vocabulary word below, then ask the following questions:

VOCABULARY: Faith, Trust or confidence in someone or something; to believe
  • Who is truly worthy and well prepared to receive Holy Communion?

  • A: The one who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

  • Who is unworthy and unprepared to receive Holy Communion?

  • A: The one who does not believe or doubts these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

  • Do we need outward bodily preparation like fasting to receive Holy Communion?

  • A: No, only faith.

BibleProject Video

Watch the Faithful video on the BibleProject YouTube page (https://youtu.be/HCLuq_5o7_o). This video will cover what it means when the Bible calls God faithful and how because of Jesus we can know God’s faithfulness. If your student has a smart device like a tablet or Chromebook, you can have them look it up; then, watch it together.

Discuss what you saw in the video. If you need to, you can use some of the following questions:

  • Why does Moses call God a rock?

  • How do we know God is faithful?

  • What was something new that you learned?

  • Parents, feel free to share something you learned

  • Was there anything in the video that was weird, confusing, or that you didn’t understand?

  • Parents, don’t hesitate to share something that was weird or confusing or that you didn’t understand or write down questions and try to find the answers throughout the week.

PARENTS SAY: To believe in God, to have faith in him, and consider him trustworthy is impossible for us to do on our own. That’s because sin has made us distrustful of God from the start. We’re constantly tempted to doubt God’s word and not trust in him. That can make us nervous when we think about needing faith to receive Holy Communion rightly or worthily since Luther said that to do so we need to have faith in Jesus’ words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”


So how do we come to believe in God or have faith in him and how do we know we have faith? The good news is God knows we can’t trust in him on our own and because he is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, he gives us what we need.


The Holy Spirit calls us to faith in God by the gospel: the free forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In baptism, the Holy Spirit unites us to Jesus’ death and resurrection and creates faith in us to believe in Jesus and his words of promise in Holy Communion.


Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 11:20-29

Grab your Bibles and turn to 1 Corinthians 11:20-29. Read it aloud, either you, your child, or take turns; then, discuss what you read. Use some of the following questions:

  • Why do we eat Holy Communion?

  • What does Paul say we should do before receiving Holy Communion?

  • What does it mean to examine something?

  • When, in the worship service, do we examine ourselves and express our need for God’s forgiveness?

PARENTS SAY: It’s important to know what Holy Communion is, what its benefit and purpose are, and where its power comes from. Otherwise, we will receive Holy Communion for the wrong reasons and misunderstand its purpose and what God is doing for us in this meal. If we don’t know what Holy Communion is for or don’t believe it is Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins, we can take it to our harm by trusting in ourselves instead of God.


Holy Communion is not something we do for God to make him love us or to make things right with him so that he will forgive us our sins and so give us life and salvation. Rather, Holy Communion is one of the ways God has promised to forgive our sins and grant us life and salvation. It is not a meal for perfect people or those who only do good things. Instead, it is a meal sinners share with other sinners (that’s you and me) in the presence of God. In Holy Communion, he comes to us to strengthen our faith in him by showing us his love by giving himself to us for the forgiveness of our sins.

Pause here for a moment...

...and find the section titled “Christian Questions with Their Answers” in your Small Catechism. Not all versions of the Small Catechism include them. If yours does not you can look it up here: https://catechism.cph.org/en/questions-answers.html


These questions were written by Martin Luther for those who intended to receive Holy Communion. Take the time to go through them. They will help your student examine themselves ahead of receiving their first communion.


Your student is not expected to know the answers word for word. Instead, talk through them as you need to and use them to get a baseline of where your student is in terms of their understanding Holy Communion.

BibleProject Video

Watch the Grace video on the BibleProject YouTube page (https://youtu.be/ABPVVw_aw44). This video covers the Hebrew words for grace, understanding it to be a rich concept that has profound implications for how we see God. As with the last video, if your student has a smart device like a tablet or Chromebook, you can have them find it and then watch it together.

Discuss what you saw in the video. If you need to you can use some of the following questions.

  • Who shows the most grace and favor in the Bible?

  • How did God by his grace rescue us from sin and its consequences?

  • How does God respond to those who ask for his grace (khen)?

  • What was something new that you learned?

  • Again, feel free to share something you learned

  • Was there anything in the video that was weird, confusing, or that you didn’t understand?

  • Again, parents, don’t hesitate to share something that was weird or confusing to you or that you didn’t understand or to write down these questions too and try to find the answers throughout the week.

Bible Reading - Luke 19:1-9

Grab your Bibles again. This time, turn to Luke 19:1-9. Read it aloud, either you, your child, or you can take turns. Then, review the vocabulary word below and discuss what you read using some of the following questions:

VOCABULARY: Repentance, To be turned or to turn from one thing to another; a change of mind
  • Why did people think Zacchaeus was unworthy to have Jesus stay with him?

  • See verse 7

  • What turned Zacchaeus from trusting in his way of life to faith in Jesus?

  • See verses 5 & 6

PARENTS SAY: As we prepare and examine ourselves to receive Holy Communion we have to be careful not to think that our right reception of Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins depends on us in any way.


Like with Zacchaeus, Jesus comes to us first and shows us mercy and grace. Jesus invites himself over to Zacchaeus’ house and that invitation is an announcement of the forgiveness of his sin. His faith in that promise from Jesus (that his sins are forgiven) turns him from his ways of theft, fraud, and extortion to Jesus’ way of love and grace.


It is the same for us. Jesus comes to us first in the water and word of Baptism and turns us from sin and death to forgiveness and life. In the words of institution, Jesus calls us to repentance, to turn from our sinful actions, and under the bread and wine comes to us and turns us from sin by forgiving us. He turns us from death (the wages of our sin) to life (what he earned for us on the cross).

Some questions to see what you learned

Review the following questions with your child to see what they learned and reinforce the information; grab a pen or pencil to record their answers

  1. What do the words faith and repentance mean?

  2. Who is worthy and prepared to receive Holy Communion?

  3. Who is Holy Communion a meal for and what does it give us?

Closing Prayer

Close your time of study with the following prayer:

Heavenly Father, what shall I give to you for all you have given to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on your holy name as long as I live. For you hear my cry and you treat me graciously. When I was low, you saved me. When I was trapped in sin, you loosened my bonds and freed me. For all this and more, I offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise to you. Amen.

Final Readiness Assessment

The following exercise is meant to help you and your student determine their readiness to receive their First Holy Communion. You will need a pen or pencil and your student will need a separate piece of paper for this exercise.

  • Parents, talk to your children about YOUR first communion. Where was it? What did you do to prepare? Who was with you when you received your first communion? What do you remember about the experience?

  • Talk to them about your experience now – tell them as best you can what receiving communion means to you as an adult.

  • Together, talk about your favorite meal as a family. What is on the menu? Who is there? If it is for a special occasion, what is that event and why is it special?


Record your student’s answer to the following questions:

  • Do you believe that, in Holy Communion, we receive Jesus’ body and blood under the bread and wine?

  • Yes or No

  • Do you believe that you have sinned (and do sin) and need God’s forgiveness?

  • Yes or No

  • Do you that God will forgive your sins in Holy Communion?

  • Yes or No


On a separate sheet of paper, have your student answer the following question:

  • In a few sentences, write about what receiving Holy Communion for the first time means to you. If you want, you can address this in the form of a prayer to God, thanking God for the gift he offers you in communion.


Ask your student which of the following best describes how they feel about receiving their first Holy Communion. (Check all that apply.)

I would rather not receive Holy Communion at this time.

I am a little nervous about receiving Holy Communion.

I am looking forward to receiving Holy Communion.

I feel ready and prepared to receive Holy Communion.