Welcome at the Table
Pastor's monthly newsletter article for March, 2014 When I was growing up there were two beliefs I had about Holy Communion: (1) it was only to be celebrated occasionally, and (2) it was only for those old enough to understand it. I am grateful for my upbringing, and for the faith that was shared with me during those formative years. But I have to say: I couldn’t possibly be more in disagreement with these two beliefs than I am now.
How often should one celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion?
As often as possible!
In the church of my childhood Holy Communion was rarely celebrated. When it was, it was added on to the regular Sunday service, making the service (in the eyes of a young boy) painfully long. I can remember walking in the front door of the sanctuary, looking down that endless center aisle, seeing stacks and stacks of individual communion cups on the altar, and thinking: “Oh no! This is going to take forever!”
What a sad lesson that was to learn. Thankfully, the practice of our church has changed since then. Now we understand this sacred meal to have a central place in every Sunday worship service, and as often in addition to that as possible. Now worshippers enter the worship center and are glad to know that Christ will be meeting them in the bread and wine. Now this extraordinary meal has become a welcomed and treasured aspect of the weekly rhythm of our lives. Thanks be to God for that!
Who should participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion?
Everyone is welcome!
Remember the first gathering around this meal. It is Maundy Thursday. Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples. Gathered with him is the one who, within the hour, will betray him; the one who, within the day, will publicly deny him three times; the ten who, as he is crucified, will run and hide when he needs them most. Yet he fully includes each and every one of them. They surely don’t understand. You can make a strong case that a number of them don’t even believe. Yet with bread and wine he feeds them, and loves them, and demonstrates to us that this is a meal which knows no bounds.
Jesus has given the invitation. This meal is “for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.” Woe be to any of us who seek to roll back the welcome mat that Jesus has set in place. As Marty Haugen so eloquently put it: “All are welcome. All are welcome. All are welcome in this place.”
I look forward to gathering at the table with all of you; and soon!
God’s peace to you,
“All Are Welcome”
let us build a house where love is found in water, wine and wheat
a banquet hall on holy ground where peace and justice meet
here the love of God through Jesus is revealed in time and space
as we share in Christ the feast that frees us all are welcome all are welcome all are welcome in this place