One of my favorite things about this priestly life is distributing communion. I love interacting at the communion rail through this simple act of placing the wafer in people's hands. I love the personal-yet-communal receiving that happens at this kind of distribution (as opposed to standing stations). I love that some people really seek eye contact, and even that some people don't. I love the really little kids who are practically bursting they are so excited to come to God's table, and I love the kids who forget to hold out their hands. I love how different everyone is when they come to this altar rail, and how they all receive the same wafer. And, happily, I get to participate in the Eucharist this way every week.
As much as I love this... I struggle often with the "blessing" portion of distribution. There are all these beautiful babies at my church - just tons of them! - and, well, they don't really eat solid food. So, they don't receive Communion yet. So, we make the sign of the cross on their foreheads, and say a prayer - and some kids receive this until they are 6, 7 or 8, depending on their parents theology.
Here has been my struggle (besides the whole children-not-receiving thing, thats a whole other issue!): I want to say a prayer that helps the children hear and know that they too are welcome at the Lord's table. So, I experiment with wording. My usual blessing is something like "May the blessing of God who made you, Jesus who came as a child, and the Holy Spirit who lives in your heart be with you always, Amen". This past Sunday, for whatever reason, I had a musical version of 2 Corinthians 13 in my head.... "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God..." So, I changed my wording and said, "May the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit bless you today and always, Amen"
As I laid my hand on one baby girl - a very very cute baby with big wide eyes, pink chubby baby cheeks, and two little brown pigtails that stick straight up and out - after I finished the prayer for her, she clapped. She grinned and she clapped.
I think I'll be sticking with the new wording for a while. It has baby approval.