Who should eat at our table? The question comes up from time to time among Christians as to whether those who are not baptized should be admitted to holy communion. It is a good question for the Church to debate, especially since some churches, such as our own, routinely offer communion to all who present themselves.
Traditionally, catholic doctrine has interpreted communion as a family meal exclusively for family members. In early days seekers were asked to leave while believers received communion. The thinking was that communion was a sacred meal given by Jesus to his disciples, not to the crowds. Also, as St. Paul taught, communion is not to be taken lightly, and only the initiated can be expected to give it the reverence it deserves.
But many argue that communion ought to be an open meal, offered to all. For one thing, modern Christian congregations are made up of a wide diversity of worshippers, some of whom are not baptized. How will they feel part of the family if they are regularly excluded from the family meal? How will they experience God’s grace if they are kept at arm’s length?
Even more telling, whose meal is it anyway? Is it not God who sets the table with symbols of God’s extravagant goodness? Did not Jesus himself break many social taboos to eat even with “sinners and tax collectors”? Is not the whole point of communion to be a banquet which symbolizes God’s love of all people? Good question.
For an excellent article by Gary Nicolosi on this topic, and an ensuing online discussion, visit www.anglicanjournal.com, or read the article posted on our bulletin board.