“Communion can be a lengthy service for children to sit through, and it can be a challenge for parents to keep them engaged,” shares Sandra Will, Beginner’s Sabbath School leader and mother of three small boys. To explore ways to bring meaning to the service at a level kids could understand, she and fellow Sabbath School leader Karen Flowers transformed the church’s fellowship hall into a journey to Jerusalem for Passover, culminating in an experience with Jesus in the Upper Room.
Costumed parents served as guides as the children studied ancient maps marking two possible routes, a shorter, more difficult one with the risk of robbers, and a longer Roman road with the possibility of encountering a Roman soldier who could make them carry his load. Along their chosen route, the children encountered a Gentile trader full of questions about the buzz in Jerusalem around a man called Jesus. “It was heartwarming to hear the kids affirm their belief in Jesus—who could heal the sick, feed thousands with a boy’s lunch, even raise the dead,” says Flowers. A Samaritan woman at a well also offered the travelers rest and a cool drink while sharing her testimony.
On the outskirts of the city, the children paid Roman taxes and entered the Jerusalem marketplace. Here they shopped at various stalls, basket and list in hand, for everything they needed for the Passover meal. After making unleavened pocket bread in the Star of David Bakery, they gathered around low tables set for Passover in the Upper Room. There, Jesus washed their feet and unfolded the meaning of the events of the next few days as He would go to the cross for their salvation.
“We did two programs on two consecutive Sabbaths, one developmentally designed for children ages 5-9 and the other for ages 0-4 years, with community families invited to join,” Flowers says. “It was a lot of planning and set-up, but we were driven by a desire to engage kids in the story and give them a place to start attaching meaning to communion and to understand why we remember Jesus’ sacrifice in this way,” Will adds.
Both leaders agree it was an enriching and bonding experience for all the families who participated. One adult shared that they will never sit through another communion service in quite the same way as before, the experience having deepened what it means to them. Will, Flowers, and others look forward to further exploring the meaning of this and other stories with similar events in the future.