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When They Ask What It Means, What Will You Say?

Written by Sylvia Schroeder, blogger of When the House is Quiet

My granddaughter sits on my lap. Church music plays in the background. Her soft blonde hair is pressed against my cheek while my lips move at the tip of her velvet ear.

“This helps us remember that God loved us so much He gave His Only Son for you and me,” I say, turning my head so the words whisper to her ears alone.

“The bread,” and I open my palm where a little piece is cradled, “reminds us that nails went here.” I show my wrists and reach one arm down to my feet, “and here.”

I close my eyes, put the soft square of bread into my mouth, and chew, trying to concentrate on the act of remembrance while knowing just inches away big blue eyes framed with thick black lashes watch and wonder at my grown-up privilege.

She wiggles and presses harder. “They nailed His body to a cross.”

A round silver plate makes its way down the row toward me. I balance it precariously with one hand and lift a tiny clear plastic cup from its holder.

“And this,” I breathe while she settles back heavy against me, her ear against my lips. “Reminds us that He bled and died.” I trace a line down her forehead with my finger. I pick up her hand and trace another imaginary rivulet of blood across her wrist. “He loves us so much, He wanted to make a way for our sins to be forgiven.”

I lift the cup to my lips. She pulls back a few inches to look at me and watches me swallow. Her face is so close. I shut my eyes, wanting to shut out distraction, to think about the import of Communion, the bread, and the cup. 

The cold tip of a little nose brushes back and forth against my lips. Startled I open my eyes. She sniffs as loudly as a dog on the trail of a rabbit.

“Your breath smells like grapes,” she says out loud. Several people turn to look.

“And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ You shall say…,” Moses instructed Israelite families to be ready to explain why they practiced the rituals God ordained in Exodus 12:26-27, (NASB).

Scripture repeatedly encourages generations to be responsible for passing to the next generations the teachings of our faith, but religious acts themselves do not produce faith by osmosis. Some of our Christian practices may seem confusing to little children, or as mundane as learning to tie shoes. Our mandate as grandparents includes verbalizing beliefs as part of our daily routine.

Deuteronomy 6:7, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (NASB).

Sometimes the challenges of grandparenthood leave little energy to transmit why we do what we do and believe what we believe. “Rising up” is a challenge of its own, and “lying down” is our deepest yearning. Yet, alongside all the tasks of a grandpa or grandma, a life lived that bestows fundamental spiritual truths gives a priceless gift.

Christ broke bread and drank from the cup with His disciples at the Last Supper. He instructed them, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Cor. 11:23-26) That ordinance of Communion practiced by the body of Christ is a perfect opportunity to carefully lay out the truths of the gospel.

What essentials can a child respond to and build upon?

  • God is perfect. He is holy.
  • I’m not. I sin. I disobey God. I need forgiveness.
  • God loves me. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sin.
  • He wants to forgive me for my sin and give me a clean heart.

Make opportunities to talk about those essentials of faith. Teach them day by day. And then do it again. Open the Bible. Accompany it with love. As they grow, they will associate the emotion of your speech and actions of your life with the validity of your words.

A dad in the church pew two rows ahead tries to wrest his cup from the reaching hand of a baby. Quiet moments of reflection interrupted by little hands and feet are also defining opportunities for teaching gospel truths. After all, isn’t the heart of the gospel one that must be embraced as a child?

More to explore

The Truth Will Set You Free

The weight of a grandparent’s role can be felt immensely. We hold the stories of the past, the wisdom of experience, and a fierce love for the next generation.

Grandparent, Teach Me to Pray (Part 2)

Part 1 of this blog shared four things to keep in mind as you seek to pass prayer on to your grandkids. Here in Part 2, we’ll look at some specific techniques for helping grandchildren learn what to pray for.

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