A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Open Table

In Wyoming a lesbian couple in a Catholic parish was denied communion because of their public opposition to anti-gay marriage legislation that the legislature was considering.

I'm a protestant and not Catholic, but the idea that communion could be used as a litmus test, political or otherwise is disconcerting. Most of the folks Jesus would eat with in the NT would hardly meet any litmus in their day. How can we set them up in our day?

The image I have, with communion is that of an open table fellowship that Jesus practiced with a wide range of "sinners". It's a table that he invites us to, not something we set up, and if he has set that table, who are we to act as bouncers at his banquet?

At our campus ministry we welcome anyone who feels called to the table. Most churches will accept any baptized Christian, but I'm not sure if the welcome is broad enough to include those called to eat who may or may not identify with a given tradition. But they should be.

I've revamped my links and will be adding some new links in the future. I've already added Jspot and Ponderings on a Faith Journey. If you have some recommended additions to the list or know the whereabouts of Beppepodcast and Kinesis, please let me know.


At 6:57 PM , Anonymous Chris T. said...

I agree 100% with your post and your ideas about communion. The Gospel accounts of just who Jesus was dining with are pretty damning to the closed communion position. My bishop jokingly calls the Roman church "that schismatic church" because it forbids a huge number of Christians from receiving communion from its priests, and there's some truth in that description.

I just wanted to mention that I tend to use language like "all those who discern the Body" rather than "called to the table", since the former language is biblical (Pauline). I use it to mean almost the same thing, but it points out that we are opening the Table to all who want to be part of the Body of Christ — it's clear from the language itself that people who disrespect the Sacrament or hate Christianity probably shouldn't come up, but other litmus tests are wholly inappropriate.

I don't know where Rome gets off thinking it owns the Body of Christ sometimes. :-)

At 8:07 PM , Blogger Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


First, thanks for adding a link to my blog.

On the Table, though too often in history it has been used to exclude, if we take Jesus' own experience of Table fellowship, then it would seem like there is no other position, but to welcome all who will come, which is my/our practice.

So thanks for raising the issue -- especially regarding using the Table in "disciplinary" or political ways.

I agree: All are welcome!!!

At 6:43 PM , Blogger Bill Baar said...

My mother-in-law will not take communion if she missed mass the Sunday before. She won't take communion until she does a confession.

Communion and not taking it has a consquence for her a Unitarian Universalist like myself can't fathom.

I do respect her faith though, and troubled somehow by those who feel communion a right.

At 9:03 PM , Blogger Nat Felton said...

My own attitude about communion is that it should be an open-armed thing, rather than something with arm extended like a traffic cop, keeping people away. I really think that's what Jesus had in mind. [See Crossan's discussion of Open Commensality in Jesus, A Revolutionary Biography, pp. 66-70.] It has something to do with the anthropology of who you sit down and eat meals with. "The master said to his servant, 'Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner.'" I respect Mr. Baar's mother-in-law, too, but I prefer a church that doesn't make up rules where I think Jesus intended there be none.

At 10:30 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

I'd respect Bill Baar's mother in law's decision as well. The NT has any number of admonitions to self examination before coming to the table. But those are the act of the individual conscience, not of a church policy or political litmus test of who is in and who is out. Providing less of that provides a greater reign for individual conscience to work itself out in the first place.

At 6:31 PM , Blogger Bill Baar said...

But those are the act of the individual conscience, not of a church policy...

Would you judge the individual as you do the Church then?

At 9:52 PM , Blogger Virginia said...

As I told my dad, a minister, when I was much younger, I cannot fathom a God who would call me to repentance for inviting too many people to the table, for being too inclusive, for NOT turning people away. But I don't have any trouble finding evidence that God calls me to repent for excluding people.

As for Chris's idea that we might not invite those who hate Christianity, well, I don't find any reason for doing that either. If Judas could be at the last supper, I think any person who feels called to be at the table should be welcomed. And even if you don't think that way about Judas, well, if we believe in the Eucharist, we must believe that it has the power to transform even the hardest of hearts. Besides, if a person hates this religious institution, it hardly means they don't love and appreciate the call of Christ. It just means they have some human barriers of hatred for the religion to deal with. No excuse for turning them away. I can't think of any excuse at all for turning anybody away if they feel compelled to partake.

At 7:55 AM , Blogger Bill Baar said...

I can't think of any excuse at all for turning anybody away if they feel compelled to partake.

Eternal Damnation...

I heard a Jusit Priest raise it while discussing Kerry in the last election.

One compelled to take a sacrement while thumbing their nose at doctrine is at risk of Eternal Damnation. Almost like an aggravating sin that compounds the initial one geometrically.

Not my faith but the logic is pretty clear.

I find it hard to believe and work for Social Justice without some sense that God makes a judgement.

If you buy into the Church, this judgement seems inescapable.

That's why I wouldn't call myself a Christian.

At 12:05 PM , Blogger ... ./|\. ... said...

it amazes me how christianity has always found ways to use the bible to support all it's many "-isms" throughout history.

and those christians who are against "-isms" are trying to fix it before it's too late.

At 12:44 PM , Blogger Gunfighter said...

First time visitor here!

I'm with you on this... I feel that the table is open to all.


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