Sunday, February 19, 2012

My nephew (and God son), Nathan, will be celebrating his first communion in May. In the Catholic tradition this is a big deal. When I had my first communion my mom bought me a beautiful white dress, white lace gloves and a child-sized veil. It takes about a year of preparation with dozens of adults pouring time into seven and eight year olds who are only vaguely aware of the importance of the sacrament, but who grow tremendously from the experience. I am excited for my nephew, and I have been trying to think of the perfect rememberance to send him for this special day. Here are some ideas I've come up with:

1. Lego Rosary - thank you etsy, I knew I could count on you! Prayer beads are important in many faith traditions, Catholics pray the Rosary. This unique blue Lego version may be just the thing that can span the gap of the interests of an eight year old boy.

2. Cathedral Visit - Most large metropolitan areas have a cathedral, both Catholic and Protestant. I've been in gorgeous cathedrals from Italy to Kansas City and I am always amazed by the way God's people have poured their time and artistic talents into the worship of their Creator. Taking a child to a cathedral always invites interesting conversation!

3. Saint Medallion - Crosses and saint medallions are great reminders for the wearer of the faith for which they are apart.

4. T-shirt for a Cause - Based on the quote from Mother Teresa, "If you can't feed a hundred people then feed just one" the purchase of this t-shirt provides 30 meals to hungry school children.

5.  Cooking Class - Food is used as a tangible symbol of God's provision so often in the Bible. From manna in the desert, to Jesus providing food for 5,000 and of course the whole point of communion. Taking a class with a child to explore how to prepare food for those in our life, after which we can all sit at a common table and celebrate community - win, win, win.

6. Children's Bible - This is the version I had as a kid, but their are dozens (maybe hundreds) of options available now-a-days. The kids in the Sunday School I help with in Baltimore all have an Adventure version. The key, to me, is the illustrations, especially at this age. Kids may find it difficult to visualize a 2,000 year old well with a Samaritan women drawing water - but put it into a vivid picture that they leaf through for years and now the Bible comes to life!

7. Letter of Encouragement - Free and potentially full of meaning. I would tend to doodle and add lots of color for this age group, but always amongst many words of encouragement and the promises of God for this young one's future.

8. Devotional - Again, there are tons of options in this category. For the kids with lots of questions (what kid does not have lots of questions!?!) this is a great way to take their faith a little deeper.

9. Holy Water - My brother always had a little bottle of Holy Water on his shelf growing up. I don't know that he ever "used" it for anything, but I do know that it represented something to him about his faith tradition and served as a visual reminder of his baptism. Reminders, of all shapes and sizes, can be wonderful ways to bring our thoughts back to center (read: God, Jesus, and LOVE, always LOVE).

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