Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Sunday: Welcome to the Table

I sent this to members of our congregation in anticipation of Easter Sunday.  I've been wanting to for a long time.
Grace and Peace to you in the name of Christ,

I am looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday and worshiping in the presence of the risen Jesus.
When we gather at the Lord's Table this Sunday, all are invited to participate.  It has always been our practice to welcome everyone to the table, but we are not always explicit about what that means; people still ask if they are welcome if they are unbaptized, if they have never taken Communion before, if they are too young.  I'm here to tell you that everyone means everyone.  Jesus does not place limits on the welcome.

To that end, we have made efforts to make the bread allergen free (but still delicious) and serve juice as the 'fruit of the vine' in lieu of wine.  Because we have wanted to include children in a special way, we have often offered a grape and a cracker.  However the more I've thought about this (and feel free to challenge me) the more this feels like not inclusion in but exclusion from the open table.  Children have been receiving something less-than, something that marks them as set apart from the people who are really welcomed. I've observed that teens sometimes just opt out altogether - not a kid who eats crackers, but not quite an adult whom the place at the table is more obvious.  So this Sunday we will not have grapes and crackers. 

The invitation to the bread and the cup is for all of God's children, young and old.  To you who have been baptized, may this Communion meal be a re-affirmation of your commitment to Christ and the body of Christ.  To you are seeking, may you find in this meal an invitation.  To you who are hungry, may this meal feed you, as Jesus fed the crowd.  To you who have never participated before, may this meal be the first bite in a feast that goes on and on.  May it be all these things and more as we eat and drink together as the family of God.

The more I hear and read about how other contemporary Mennonite churches commemorate the Lord's Supper, the more I realize that in spite of a history that put limits on participation in Communion, there is no longer (if there ever was) a prescription for how to celebrate this meal.  Our hope in this congregation is to be a place of radical welcome and hospitality.  Our call to be a people that welcomes is rooted in the wide open welcome that God gives to us and that we are shown in the love, life, teaching, healing, preaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, summed up and symbolized in 'Whenever you do this, remember me.'
A holy Holy week to you :)


Carol Penner said...

Thanks for these posts about your miscarriage... I really enjoy your blog.

Amy Marie said...

Thanks, Carole. :)