From my seat in the church, I could see the little girl as she came forward to receive Communion for the first time. She extended her hands as she had been taught – one cupped under the other. After tentatively drinking from the chalice, she reverently crossed herself and then bounced a little as she returned to her seat. Her small hands stuck in my mind. They evoked a precious sense of presence, as if Jesus was not only being received but also extended to all of us in the innocent gesture of a child.
Is it possible that my own hands were just as small when I first came forward for this holy sacrament? One of the photographs from that long-ago moment affirms that fact. I stand on the front lawn, clad in a white dress. My face is ringed with curls and a circle of fresh roses sits atop my head. My face is lit with joy as I clasp a prayerbook and smile broadly for the camera.
I have since helped lots of children and their families prepare for this special day. It continues to be one of my most prized experiences from my times as a catechetical leader. As small hands extend outwards to receive Christ in the form of bread and wine, the entire community is drawn together in sacred memory. No wonder that the celebration of the first experience of communion takes place during the Easter season. It’s a great reason for all of us to “bounce” a little as we step forward, extend our hands, and receive the gift of Christ.