Lutheran Theology and Holy Communion
At the very core of Lutheran theology is the idea that a person need not have a fully formed faith or even a cognitive understanding in order to receive God's grace. This is the main justification for the practice of infant baptism. Infants are baptized because God chooses us first, before we have understanding or even faith!
To be consistent, the Lord's Supper (as the other Lutheran sacrament) should not be withheld from anyone who seeks to receive, even if they do not understand the theological significance of communion.
Many young children do, in fact, understand that it is God's meal, and Gethsemane practices a model of participation followed by reflection; participate in God's meal and then learn and understand what it means as one grows in faith and maturity.
Children have the option to commune if parents and child would like to do this. It is optional, and not in any way expected. There is no age limit concerning when a child may first commune—it is up to parents and child to decide.
At Gethsemane we offer an Early Communion class twice a year. After attending this interactive, hour-long class the child may partake in Holy Communion. At their first communion each child receives a cross necklace from the church.
Gethsemane offers a Holy Communion Retreat in fifth grade because at this age a child can understand communion at a deeper level. This retreat serves to deepen and enrich the experience, and is for all fifth graders and parents whether they have previously communed or not.
The retreat held in March offers parents and their child not only a better understanding of Holy Communion but allows families to deepen spiritual friendships through learning and play. That Sunday morning the 5th graders commune together at the 10:45 service.