As the most important sacrament, making your First Communion is a big step in a child's spiritual growth. By sharing in the Holy Eucharist, you come into full communion with the Catholic Church. A lot goes into preparing children for this celebration and decorating the church is a part of these preparations. Creating a First Communion banner is an ideal way to make the church beautiful, as well as help prepare the children for the Eucharist.
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"Come to the Table"
To take part in the Eucharist is to take part in Jesus' Last Supper, and the altar in the church represents the table at which He sat. Children can better appreciate this symbolism if they feel they are actually taking part in the Last Supper. Using a picture of the Last Supper as your backdrop (Da Vinci's famous painting or another rendition), have the children create felt cutouts of themselves to add to the picture. The children can decorate their cutouts with their names, faces and a drawing of what the Eucharist means to them over their hearts. Children will take great pride in showing friends and family how they too are seated with the Apostles at Christ's table.
"This is My Body"
According to Roman Catholic teaching, the Eucharist is the actual body of Christ. Because you are what you eat, by taking part in the Eucharist, you become the body of Christ. This idea will become clearer to children if they can see themselves in Jesus' body. Using white felt circles to represent the Eucharist, have students decorate their own personal Hosts with their name and an image of love. Arrange the children's Hosts on a banner in the form of Jesus' body. Your banner collage could be of the risen Lord, Christ on the cross or simply of Jesus' face. Such a collage will show the children that they are one of many parts it takes to create the Body of Christ.
"Feed my Lambs"
Three times Jesus asked St. Peter if he loved Him. Each time St. Peter answered "Yes," Jesus instructed him to feed His lambs. Jesus saw Himself as the Good Shepherd, and we are the lambs that are under His protection. Have the children decorate a lamb cut out of white felt. A design idea for the kids could be a drawing of what it means to follow Jesus by being faithful to the Church St. Peter began. These lambs can then be glued onto your First Communion banner, showing the children following the Good Shepherd with the help of St. Peter and the Church.
"His Banner over Me is Love"
Remind the children that they are taking part in the Eucharist because God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to forgive our sins. With the title of the popular First Communion hymn written across the top of your banner, give each child a section of the banner to decorate on the theme of love. Although there will be a lot of red hearts, ask the children how they show love to one another and to their families. Once you have a list of at least ten loving actions, have the children think about love for a couple of minutes before they begin decorating their parts of the banner.
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