"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." Archimandrite Sophrony
Raised in the Protestant church, I remember being about 5 years old and attending a class to "prove" I was ready to go to communion. I had been baptized as an infant, but children did not receive communion until they were ready to make a statement of faith. Years before their introduction to the Orthodox church my parents knew deep down the importance of the Eucharist and were anxious to have me become a communing member of the church as early as possible. I think I was the youngest person to ever attend that class - I remember being surrounded by adults and a handful of teenagers. I remember being asked to tell about when I became a Christian, and I remember giving the answer my dad had helped me prepare - explaining that I had no conversion "moment" to share, but that I had always loved Jesus and could not remember a time when I did not believe in God.
This memory was brought to my mind recently when a priest related to me a very simple yet powerful way to demonstrate to our children the importance of the Eucharist in our salvation. Often our children are confused by phrases such as "do you have a personal relationship with Christ?" or "have you asked Jesus into your heart?" and the emphasis on personal scripture reading as the crux of our relationship with God.
His advice was to bake cookies with your children. Then, set the cookies aside without tasting them. Instead of eating the cookies, have the kids sit down and read the recipe. After reading the recipe, allow them to eat the cookies, and ask them, which was the true experience - reading about cookies, or eating them? Such a simple yet moving example of the Orthodox experience of God. Yes, it is important and necessary to read the recipe, but that does not allow us to truly experience cookies. We must read and learn about God through the scriptures, but the Eucharist is the crucial relationship with Christ. We must read about Him, we must seek to be like Him, but most importantly, we must commune with Him, becoming one with Him through the Eucharist."Orthodoxy is nothing less than a relationship with God" Archimandrite Meletios Weber