The Sacrament of the Altar—First Communion Instruction
Instruction for First Communion is for those in fifth grade or older. It is designed to teach what we believe about Communion, its biblical foundations as a sacrament, and how to prepare for and receive the sacrament in a worthy manner. This instruction is a step in fulfilling the baptismal promises made by parents and sponsors.
The material is primarily organized in the pattern of Luther’s Small Catechism, where there is a question posed, and then the question is answered.
Resources are the Holy Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, and the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW).
1. What is grace?
-God’s undeserved mercy
2. What are the means of grace (the ways God’s grace comes to us)?
3. How do we talk about God’s Word?
-the power and wisdom of God, as in creation (Genesis 1)
-Jesus, the Word incarnate (John 1)
-the Holy Bible – points us to and witnesses to Jesus, the Word
4. What are the sacraments?
5. What makes a rite (a religious act) a sacrament?
-it is instituted and commanded by Christ
-it contains an earthly element
-it gives spiritual benefits of forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation in Jesus
6. The sacraments join God’s promise to a visible element
-they use all the senses
7. How do Holy Baptism and Holy Communion differ as sacraments?
-there are different earthly elements
-Baptism is done once, but we live in baptism daily (see Small Catechism, p. 30)
-we receive Holy Communion often, and it is food for strengthening our faith
8. Holy Communion has connections to God’s saving acts in the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The plagues and Passover (Exodus 7-12)
-Aaron first had his rod turn into a snake, and then back to a rod
-Then followed 10 plagues brought by God upon Egypt
-Nile River turned to blood -Boils on people and animals
-Frogs -Thunder and hail
-Gnats (Mosquitoes?) -Locusts
-Livestock diseased -Death of the firstborn (Passover, with a command that
this meal was to be celebrated annually)
9. Watch the video about the modern celebration of the Jewish Passover (Seder) Meal
10. The institution of Holy Communion in relation to the Passover celebration
-in three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Jesus is celebrating Passover with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion
-there are connections drawn between Passover and Holy Communion, with the understanding Jesus is fulfilling the Passover promise of freedom
11. What are similarities/connections between Passover and Holy Communion?
-both were ordained and commanded by God
-in both people eat bread and drink wine
-in both a lamb was sacrificed
-both are meals of freedom – Passover from slavery in Egypt, Holy Communion from sin and death
-both retell and remember how God acted to save His people
-both look forward to Christ
-both contain prayers
-both are meals shared by the family of faith
12. Catechism and words of institution
-Small Catechism, p. 33 – based on 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
13. The meaning of remembrance/remembering
-it is more than just remembering something took place historically; what happened has an effect on us now
14. How do we prepare to receive Holy Communion?
-We should examine ourselves and note our sinfulness, confess these sins to God, and tell God we are sorry for our sins. See Small Catechism, pp. 31-32
-As we receive Holy Communion we should have faith in Christ and believe his words, “Given for you”, and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.” See Small Catechism, pp. 34-35
15. What happens to the elements in Holy Communion?
-transubstantiation (“changed into” – receive only body and *blood*) [Roman Catholic]
-symbolism (“represents” – receive only bread and wine/juice) [Reformed]
-real presence (“in, with, and under” – receive body and blood and bread and wine/juice) [Lutheran]
16. What are the different names for Holy Communion, and what do they teach?
-the Eucharist (see LBW, p. 68)
-the Sacrament of the Altar
-the Lord’s Supper
17. Receiving Holy Communion