Lutheran Good Friday family event

I’m going to apologize in advance, because this will be long. :slight_smile:

I have always enjoyed Good Friday services, but since having children, it has turned from a prayerful event to something akin to torture. :slight_smile: I simply have stopped attending because I am unable to entertain my 3 kids for 3 hours. So when I saw that the Lutheran church where I attend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) was offering a Family Devotional time, walking through the last days of Jesus’ life on earth, I thought it was a good opportunity. They had a nursery for the baby, a preschool program for my 4-year-old, and then I would accompany my schoolaged child through a still-motion reinactment of the events. They had a reflection time at each stop, it was really very thought-provoking and yet still age-appropriate, and not at all contradictory to our Catholic faith.

I was shocked when I picked up my 4-year-old and in the car on the way home she said that she “had the body of Christ and the blood of Christ, which was just grape juice.”

I immediately e-mailed the program director and asked what the program downstairs consisted of. Here is her response, in full:

The preschoolers took a journey through Jesus last week on earth—just like we did on the main level—visiting different rooms. Here’s a short.

Room 1: Palm Sunday/Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Bible story about what happened on Palm Sunday from children’s bible or a re-telling

Room 2: Last Supper and Foot Washing
Have a re-creation of Passover Meal set and communion. Have wafers and grape juice there for visual prop, if children want to eat them fine - they won’t be consecrated so it won’t be taking communion
Read story of the last supper from a children’s bible or re-tell it

Room 3: Good Friday
Have a big cross propped up draped with a black cloth
Re-tell or read from children’s bible how Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins

Room 4: Empty Tomb
Set up a tent in the room as our tomb.
Have a big stone as a prop.
Re-tell or read from children’s bible the story of the women going to the tomb and finding it empty

Room 5: Easter Sunday/Resurrection Party!
Re-tell/read from children’s bible story of Jesus resurrection - maybe how people met him on the road, how he showed Thomas his wounds? Get the point across that he is really risen!

Room 6: Resurrection Egg story/activity room
Read the Resurrection Eggs story/activity book (We already have this resource - a cute book you read and open an egg with a surprise in each as you tell the story

Your child’s comments had to stem from the visit to the Last Supper room. Our room leader read the Bible story about the last supper and quoted Jesus’ words: “Take and eat, this is my body given for you. Drink this all of you, this is my blood shed for you.” We had bread and grape juice as props in the room—and let children taste them if they wanted to. My best guess is that the room leader told the children that the communion elements were examples of what we use when we have communion—meaning they were not consecrated.

Make sense? Call me if we need to chat further.

Thank you for coming to our Good Friday event.

Happy Easter.

I am very concerned about this. My daughter keeps asking for the blood of Christ -by which she means grape juice. I have spoken with her about how the Eucharist is holy, which means “set apart” and as such it isn’t something that we play with or pretend, it is different than anything else that we do each week. Also that the real blood of Christ is what big kids (like her sister, later on this Easter season) and adults are privileged to receive at mass. It isn’t grape juice at all, but the body, blood, soul, and divinity, of Jesus.

I have no intention of having my children participate in any more of their children’s programming (like vacation bible school, which they have attended in the past). I am planning on leaving my leadership position at MOPS. I am so saddened, though, at the community that I am leaving behind, as my Catholic church offers no programs for mothers, and no Bible studies that work with young children.

I have attended a Bible study there in the past as well, as it is offered during the day and they have childcare. The problem with any studies offered in my church is that they’re offered in the evenings, which leaves my husband with the kids, and in my experience it has fostered a feeling of resentment between us.

Anyway, my question is this: do I need to sever all ties with this church? What if I cannot find a Catholic alternative to the programming I’ve enjoyed there? I have a real need for meaningful mom-to-mom interaction during the day. And I’m not the right kind of personality to start up a group at my own church - I’m not a leader or outgoing by nature.

Thank you for reading my long dilemma. God bless us all this Easter season!

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you are seriously over-reacting to your 4-year-old’s own misunderstanding.

It sounds like this church was getting young children involved in understanding the events of Holy Week in a way that would engage them, and set the foundations for continuing their education of faith.

I am a Sunday school teacher at my Lutheran church, working with 3 year-old kids, and they often make awkward associations that are sometimes incorrect. The important thing is to continuously explain things to them in a way that can help them understand things correctly. It’s not a fault of teaching, but a simple matter that these are really complex things that we are trying to help very young children understand.

Other than that, I am not sure why as a Catholic you would want your child(ren) to attend VBS at a Lutheran church…? Lutheran children will learn the basic foundations of Christianity from a Lutheran theological perspective.

I don’t really think this is something where you need to leave your MOPs group or sever ties. Your child is very young, and kids can become confused even in their own denominational upbringing.

My own Catholic kids, as well as many other Catholic kids, have “played mass” and have used various items for pretend Eucharist when they were small. My own kids have used Oreos, smarties, Ritz crackers, and various types of juice when they used to set up their altar and “play priest”. Now that they are teens, they don’t do that anymore…

I read through your post a couple times and don’t see any issue with the content and education provided to the children.

None of the topics seemed to include the main areas of doctrinal difference between the two Churches (e.g., Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide) or how the Churches are governed, . . . . in other words, that type of material seemed entirely absent and just the standard Christian beliefs were covered. This is similar to a mini-VBS (vacation bible school).

About communion, we just had some practice communions at our Catholic Church last week, that was similar. The elements were also non-consecrated (and we used water vs wine). The wording (the body of Christ, the blood of Christ) is the same at Catholic and Lutheran Churches - and if the discussion didn’t go any deeper than that, I see no problem.

Now, when your children are older (confirmation, formation classes), there are distinctions in the Christian education that would preclude “casual participation.”

Thanks for the reminder about intercommunion.

I wouldn’t, as the other posters have indicated, worry about the bread and grape juice.

On the other hand, I would worry about the kid remembering receiving communion in a Lutheran Church (even if it was non-consecrated, even according to their beliefs). Kids have really strange memories. I have this 17 year old who remembers details about times when she was three years old…that I have long forgotten. And they are real memories.

I would NOT make a big deal about it with the kids right now; that will just cause them to remember something they might otherwise forget about. But, I wouldn’t forget it either, as they might remember it in first communion class in a few years.

A question, though…are you the only mom with preschool and/or elementary school kids? Have you thought about the possibility of you moms doing some kind of a co-op thing? Within the Church? I would bet that if you were to ask, you would not be the only one…

They should have parents sign a form before attendance for medical/health concerns along with a question about what faith that child is being raised in.
In your case, they should have made you aware of the areas in the program that you needed to know would be a conflict in teaching before you sent your child in, just out of courtesy and good faith.

Ok…I think that’s a little over-the-top. It’s the parent’s responsibility to make all care-givers aware of medical/ health concerns…also, I fail to see what that has to do with a Good Friday children’s service, or this post…:confused:

The faith of the child would be assumed to be Christian, and the program sounds like it was based entirely in scripture. The reenactment of the Last Supper was not a Holy Communion as it was un-concecrated elements. Children were free to not participate. Even for a Catholic child, it doesn’t sound like there was any part of that program that contradicted Catholic teaching.

I would say that if the parent was worried about what might be taught, then the responsibility falls on the parent to take a moment to ask some questions PRIOR to dropping the child off.

I think the program as outlined sounds fine for any pre-school or kinder group and sounds like they did a great job, and made sure the children understood that it was “pretend” and not the same as communion received in Church.

4 yr olds are very adept at riding a horse to death, I would not over-react, and simply remind her that when she is old enough, when Jesus decides she is ready, she will make her own first communion.

btw MOPS is a great support group for mothers of pre-schoolers, I wish the Catholic alternative, MOMS was as good but at least the locals I know are less than orthodox, to be kinds.

The caregiver is not giving care if they do not ask for medical information prior to enrollment. I am not debating weather parents should or should not do anything- I’ll leave that moralizing to you and note that the parent in this thread assumed a trust relationship with a christian organization, and made some leaps of faith based on that. Maybe this experience will change the automatic trust in other denominations within christianity. Maybe not. But, it certainly is good she brought this up to other catholic parents who may be considering sending their child to a different branch of christianity.

I know enough about the Eucharist and my attendance at Mass to know this is not a small difference in theology- it is the largest difference in theology there is.

Wow that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Lutheran to Catholic understanding of the Eucharist is not even close to being the largest difference in theology. You might be surprised to know that the difference in the Eucharist is LARGELY a simple difference of semantics. It would not be difficult to reconcile the two at all.

Also, you’re still missing the point that none of what that church was teaching or having the children participate in contradicted any element of Catholic theology.

OP chose to take her young child to an event for children at the Lutheran church so there is absolutely no basis for becoming upset that they presented ideas related to the sacraments in a way not in conformity with Church teaching.

Her beef seems to be that her Catholic parish offers nothing for preschoolers.

I have been, and my daughters, in several parishes that run fine preschool programs, during Mass, or during RE for the older children. All of them–all without exception–have been started and run by parent volunteers, and continued by same, who wanted that experience for their children.

Catholics can have anything they want in their parish, all they have to do is step up to the plate, get involved, and start it.

I really agree with you here. :thumbsup:
Even in my Lutheran churches, the children’s programs largely depend on volunteers to make it possible. At my church, it’s myself and several other members of the church who lead Sunday school. People need to contribute to things that they see as valuable in the life of a church. :slight_smile:

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