We are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)—a people of the table; a people who believe that when we gather to break bread together and share a common cup, God’s love is made known to us and we encounter the sacred.
Each time I have the incredible privilege of presiding over communion, to break the bread and pour the wine, I am humbled that I have been called to this work, to the ministry. It is perhaps one of the most sacred moments I have ever encountered—that moment of offering the Lord’s Supper to my brothers and sisters, of inviting them to come and be fed.
After offering the traditional words of institution, I always close my invitation to communion with the same words: “This is God’s table, set with the radical hospitality of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all are welcome here.”
These words are bittersweet for me. Sweet because I believe them to be true; they are authentic words spoken from our unique history and theology as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Our identity and practice as a denomination teaches us that we should have an open table; all should be welcome. We are a people of the table. So, yes, these are sweet words.
But they are also bitter. Bitter because even as I offer them each time I preside over the Lord’s Supper, there’s a part of me that knows they’re not yet true. As a denomination, we have not welcomed everyone. Through our silence, our fear, our anxiety about offending, we have kept some from coming. There are some who have not been invited to our table.
We have the potential, as a denomination, to do incredible things—to speak a bold, prophetic word, to offer a meaningful witness about inclusion and radical hospitality. In our open table, in our celebration of communion, we have the theological roots to truly speak about wholeness, about what it means for all to come and share the Lord.
But we’re not having that conversation; as a larger denomination we have chosen to remain silent and so the table is still closed, still guarded, still not truly open to all. This exclusion of some because of our own fear is a bitter practice.
“This is God’s table, set with the radical hospitality of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all are welcome here.” Bittersweet words indeed. My desperate hope is that we will get here someday…that I can speak these words over the bread and cup and that they will be true.
This is God’s table, set with the radical hospitality of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all are welcome here.” May it be so.