I was asked to officiate communion for my family during our Thanksgiving gathering this year. I was also "instructed" that it needed to be short, before the meal, and inclusive. I knew there would be a few guests in attendance (some of whom were family members) who may or may not be fully "in the fold".
Dilemma: Could I in good conscience bless and serve the elements to those who may not be fully immersed into the life of Christ? I struggled with this invitation as I tried to sort-out my convictions and what I really believed about the Eucharistic meal. Passages from 1 Corinthians 11 came to mind about believers who had not properly discerned the Lord's body and were experiencing health issues and even death as a result! I also thought about my time in the Orthodox Church which extends the eucharist only to baptized, Orthodox Christians as a safeguard more than an issue of exclusivity.
But then i realized that this may be the only opportunity in some while for these folks to experience the radical generosity and inclusivity of the Christ, who welcomes all to His table. So I did what any wise priest would do, I asked my wife. I expressed my dilemma and she answered quickly and assertively: "I think you should do it. Jesus dined with Judas at the last supper."
That settled it for me. And the prayer below is what came out during a 30 minute drive from Columbia to Franklin, Tennessee where my sister lives and where we celebrated a beautiful time together, which was inaugurated by remembering the body and blood of the Lord.
The Christ manifested himself to the world in human form to show solidarity with us in our suffering and weakness, and to invite humanity into its true self.
To model for us the change that we can all embrace when we break free from shame and fear. When we embrace His light, His way, His truth, and are resurrected into the people he meant, when he meant us .
He came for all. He didn’t come to start an exclusive social club. Nor did he come to start a religion where we are busy checking off who’s been naughty or nice, or who gets in and who doesn’t. In fact he came to end religion and show us how to reclaim the way to love ourselves, love our neighbors and have union with God.
He is not a Democrat, and much to my chagrin, he is not a Republican. He’s not even an American. He is altogether other than us, yet humbles himself to be found in each of us....because of love.
He came not to exclude, or to threaten; rather to include and invite all to the table set by love.
And so with that spirit, in mind, I invite you who have all been invited to the banqueting table of the great King, that you might also become kings and priests in the divine romance.
So if you choose to partake, partake, for you are more than welcome; and if you abstain you will not be judged.
And if you count yourself unworthy to take these gifts of bread and wine, body and blood, then you have entered into a fellowship of like companions, for we are all unworthy to be considered as those who have been made worthy not by our own doing but by His.
(Take bread and wine)
On the night of his passion, his betrayal, his suffering and his great joy, he took bread in His holy and healing hands and gave thanks to the Father. He broke it and said this is my body, broken for you.
And then he took the cup of wine and when He’d given thanks he said this is my blood of the new covenant, a new agreement in love, and He said drink.
We present to you these ordinary gifts made by human hands tand ask that you come now and may make them extraordinary.
See what you believe, eat what you see, become what you eat.