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06.29.15

Welcoming everyone to the table

Filed under: Discipleship,God's movement,The Practice — 10:34 am

Like many of you, I’ve been increasingly brokenhearted by the pockets of Christianity that seek to expel anyone they don’t agree with. There are times to strongly disagree–and even part ways–but the impulse to expel the other doesn’t feel much like the Jesus we are trying to follow. (It feels much more like the religious leaders who tried to expel him.)

Our little community has been trying to put Christ’s teachings into practice and live out the grace and inclusion that he extended at nearly every turn. But what does this mean? And when does it devolve from radical grace into mushy, unthinking tolerance?

This spring, my friend and incredible Pentecostal preacher Jonathan Martin came to The Practice. His message “All Are Welcome at The Table” passionately appealed that our Eucharist table should be modeled after Jesus’ table of fellowship–which included and invited everyone. And the following communion liturgy threw the doors wide open to anyone and everyone who wants to come to the table. It was a very beautiful night.

The Table

The Table

This generated a ton of conversation from people of many perspectives. Some wondered if we were watering down the high calling of the table. Some were thrilled to discover such openness in a church. Some loved the impulse but wondered if we were overlooking important theological foundations. These were very, very interesting and helpful conversations.  And although we haven’t fully landed or fleshed it all out, here are three things we know…

•Inclusion is the not the goal.
•Being formed into Christlikeness
for the sake of the world is the goal.
•And everyone’s invited.

There is something very moving (to me) about these three statements, in this order. The invitation of Christ is not simply to be tolerated as we are, but to be swept into God’s ongoing work of Redemption. The invitation of Christ is not to become the arbiters of who’s in and who’s out, but to be swept into God’s ongoing work of Redemption. It’s a high calling that requires nothing less than dying to ourselves and being reborn as a new Creation in the name and way of Jesus. And everyone is invited.

How does this resonate with you? Thoughts? Reflections?

 

4 Comments »

  1. Right on Pastor Aaron. I think that a new attitude of “holy inclusion” is needed. Thankfully the Table reminds us that grace is sufficient both in its welcome and its transformation into God’s image.

    Comment by John — June 29, 2015 @ 10:52 am

  2. Aaron,
    Thank you for your post. I think this is such an important conversation to start and continue. I am a huge fan of your wife and have started following your blog, too. I don’t always agree with everything, but in the end your words and thoughts always, always force me to think more deeply.

    Regarding this post, my heart has been struggling with this lately. I went to a Lutheran school from Kindergarten through 8th grade. I was and am not Lutheran, but I am whole heartedly a follower of Jesus. However, this Lutheran church practices closed-communion, meaning that anyone who is not part of the Lutheran church, Missouri-synod is not allowed to participate in communion. I spent countless moments at this church and during chapel services where I had to sit in the back while all of my friends and fellow believers took communion. As a young child and in middle school, this was very hard for me to understand. It still is hard for me to understand, since my church practices that anyone who is a believer can partake in communion.

    But lately I’ve been thinking…. if someone simply visited our church, seeking God, spirituality, hope of any kind, we would also exclude them from our communion. Isn’t that the same thing as the Lutherans excluding me? In Shauna’s book Bread and Wine, I loved how she pointed out that really, any time we eat and drink together, we are sharing communion. Isn’t that just what Jesus did: share a meal with his friends?

    Maybe communion is a way of sharing Christ with others. Maybe communion is a way of offering life instead of waiting for them to accept eternal life first. What kind of questions are you wrestling with? Are you wanting everyone, no matter what religion/belief system to participate in communion? Or are there still “boundaries”? Is communion between believers of the Christian faith, or of any faith? Would love to hear more as you flesh these out…

    Mandy

    Comment by Mandy — June 29, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

  3. Thank you Aaron! Yes and yes and yes again.As we love God we Love others unconditional.Let go and let God do the work! Peace…

    Comment by Danielle — June 29, 2015 @ 11:53 pm

  4. This reminds me of a very good interview with Sara Miles on theworkofthepeople.com, in which she speaks of her parish’s approach to Eucharist as an open table. She also gives this quote St Isaac of Nineveh, which has become hugely impactful for me in developing my thoughts on this: “Did not our Lord share his Table with publicans and harlots? So do not distinguish between worthy and unworthy. All must be equal for you to love and to serve.”

    Comment by Joshua — June 30, 2015 @ 10:04 am

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