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Who is invited to the Table?

Discussion in 'Disciples of Christ DIR' started by sojourner, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    We Disciples acknowledge that the Table is not ours, but Christ's. One of the central tenets of our expression of Xy is that our policy and practice of Holy Communion be open. Here is my question: Open to whom?

    Most disciples congregations, I think, invite all baptized believers, regardless of denominational affiliation, to the Table. Is that enough? Should we take a more inclusive stance? Should we invite not-yet baptized children to receive the bread and wine? Should we invite the faithful of other religions, such as Jews who may be visiting? Should we invite non-believers?

    How are we to interpret Jesus' hospitality? How shall we define the scope of his inclusive Table ministry? Should we make Christ available to any and all who come to his Table seeking him? What defines where the hospitality ends?

    I'm especially hoping to engage other Disciples and Campbellites in conversation here.

    I'm also interested in hearing the RC, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican voices.

    Whaddya think?

     
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  2. angellous_evangellous

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    This is something of a specialty of mine. I'm planning a doctoral dissertation on the Eucharist right now. By tradition, I am a Baptist, but I'm hoping to present a Pauline viewpoint and not my own. I've written four original papers on it, and in each one I've discovered critical data that NT scholars previously did not know, and I will be publishing all of my findings asap.

    From my research, I think that the Lord's table is a communal meal primarily for those who confess that Jesus is the Messiah. It's the fellowship meal of the Church. Just like a Greco-Roman meal, the church invited members of their group - and invited folks could bring one or two uninvited guests. We have record of the door being open and uninvited guests coming into the meal in the NT (Paul required interpretation of speaking in tounges for these folks).

    I interpret the many meals of Christ as teaching the established church how to eat together in peace. The meals address the Pauline problems (of Galatians 2 and Rom 14) of Jew/Gentile table issues, and breaks barriers between the rich and the poor (like James). The Pauline vice/virtue lists and the Jesus virtues are related to food as well (eg, the command not to lust after women// worry in the Sermon and 1 Cor 5 and 11 are also parallel to John 6 and 13).
     
  3. angellous_evangellous

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    To answer your question: the Lord's table is open to everyone who is curious and are able to approach it in reverence. It is closed to those who cannot dine properly: who at the Lord's table are only concerned with satisfying their own lusts. Its purpose is to heal, but those who cannot eat properly - eg - are not open to fellowship with fellow people or with God - will destroy themselves.
     
  4. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    The Episcopal viewpoint (and one I happen to share) is expanding to include babies (who've been baptized) at the Table. The reasoning is that, as baptized Christians, they need to be spiritually fed, just as older folks do. It's a very inclusive stance to take. My own denomination does not baptize infants -- one must be "of age" in order to make a confession of faith and be baptized -- like the Baptists. However, we've had a couple of families come into the church from other traditions, whose small children were baptized. I have opened the Table to those children (at the consternation of some older members.)

    I'd be interested to read you stuff when it's ready!
     
  5. angellous_evangellous

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    Incidentally, my first paper is on invitations. Fascinating stuff.

    Do you read Greek and Latin yet?
     
  6. angellous_evangellous

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    If we apply the invitation customs of the NT, I think that we'd welcome anyone who was not offensive to the table. Offenses change over time - but who they would not welcome was essentially those with bad table manners - folks who were only concerned about themselves and not fellowship (John 6 [Jesus refuses those who only follow him for food], John 13 [footwashing refusal], Luke 14 [the invitation parable], James [seating arrangements], Rom 14 [insistance on eating certain foods]).

    Some denomenations see offense in those who do not confess Christ, but this I think is foreign to the NT idea where people can walk right in -- and indeed the early Church remembered Jesus doing the same thing. All of the meals in the Gospels are the Eucharist: the eating with the tax collectors and sinners is parallel to people walking into the Eucharist meal in 1 Cor 11 and in James.
     
  7. CaptainXeroid

    CaptainXeroid Following Christ

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    I hate to answer a question with a question:D, but consider this: Who did Jesus turn away from the table?

    Our church's philosophy, is that He would not have turned anyone away, and neither should we. "All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and accept him as Lord and Saviour" When it comes to children, we advise parents that communion should be served to those who are old enough to understand the words of confession.

    Our Disciples of Christ church offers communion to everyone who attends service. We don't ask them if they are really baptized or not nor in what church. We don't ask them if they are 100% certain that Jesus is the Messiah or if they have any doubts or unanswered questions related to His divinity or even God's existence. Jesus taught to serve, and that is what we do. The rest is between the individual and God.:162:

    I realize that other faiths have different beliefs regarding communion. I am not putting anyone down. When I visit other churches, I follow their customs without incident. I am just relaying the way our church approaches it. As far as I know, since our church was founded in 1921, we have never turned anyone away from the Table.
     
  8. angellous_evangellous

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    1) Those who followed him only for food (John 6)

    25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." 28Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." 30So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" 32Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."

    "53So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

    2) Those who care only for their reputation (John 13)

    "6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" 7Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." 8Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me."

    3) The religiously proud (Luke 14)

    12He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers[b] or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

    24For I tell you,[d] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"
     
  9. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    Why is one's belief in Jesus a determining factor of hospitality?

    Why do children have to understand the words of the confession? Chldren who do not understand nutrition are still fed. Should children who do not understand spiritual nutrition still not be fed?
     
  10. CaptainXeroid

    CaptainXeroid Following Christ

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    Yeah, I know, you asked these questions 5 months ago. :eek: I apologize for this forum slipping my mind.
    It isn't nor should it be. I said this in my last post "Our Disciples of Christ church offers communion to everyone who attends service." angellous' answers of who Jesus would turn away from the table speak to the importance of the symbolism of communion.
    Children in our church receive 'spiritual nutrition in many different ways. Since taking communion symbolizes recognition of Christ's sacrifice, our opinion is that children should only take communion when they make the confession of faith on their own and are baptized, so the symbolism is meaningful. We're not going to stop a child from taking communion, but I don't see a problem with talking to the parents and finding out if the child is ready for the special Disciple's class our pastor holds for people interested in being baptized.:angel:
     
  11. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    Symbolizes? In his book, People of the Chalice -- Disciples of Christ in Faith and Practice, Bert Cartwright says that communion more than symbolizes Christ's sacrifice. he says that, in anamnesis, Christ's sacrifice is brought forward into our time in effective power. (Paraphrased, see pg. 81) In that way, we are united with Christ in his sacrifice. So if, in communion, we do not symbolize recognition, but truly do recognize Christ's sacrifice (because we are participants in it) what about that really needs to be outwardly understood and meaningful? It is what it is. It's not the meaning of the "symbol" that is effective, but the presence of Christ in the sharing of the meal, which happens whether we intellectually "recognize" it, or not.

    Secondly, what about infants and young children who come to our church from other denominations, who have been baptized. Surely, even they do not understand what communion is, yet they are baptized Christians. Should we turn them away?

    I'll be interested to hear your thoughts here. Our elders recently had just such a discussion here. It was great!
     
  12. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    I like the Episcopalian take on this as you pointed out Sojourner. It's an amazing example of 'radical grace,' unconditional love. I like and agree with your other posts on this topic as well (so what else is new :D ).

    I like AE's addition about anyone approaching the table who 'would not give offense.' This kind of covers both ideas, radical grace but also respect for the sacrament. A baby is spiritually nurtured by participating in communion. Only a youth who has come into her own understanding can decide whether she wishes to confess Christ and take communion or not. What that exactly means to her is between her and God. The baptismal vows are there: we understand them as we can. I imagine anyone who decides to partake in the Eucharist is doing so because they consider it a sacrament or otherwise significant communion with God.

    As to the baptismal requirement...hmmm, not sure. In infant baptism the community has accepted a role in bringing the child up in Christ. I personally do not see harm in having an unbaptized person take communion if it is being done 'in the Spirit.'

    luna
     
  13. angellous_evangellous

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    :disco:
     
  14. CaptainXeroid

    CaptainXeroid Following Christ

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    Yes, as opposed to actually becoming the blood and body as some faiths. We're not talking about different concepts, so forgive me for not phrasing it as well as you did.
    I've already answered this in previous posts:
    "Our church's philosophy, is that He would not have turned anyone away, and neither should we. "
    " We're not going to stop a child from taking communion, but I don't see a problem with talking to the parents and finding out if the child is ready for the special Disciple's class our pastor holds for people interested in being baptized."

    When we pass the communion trays down each aisle, each person chooses to partake or not, and parents have the opportunity to serve their children communion. On the Sundays when people come forward and partake by intinction, we invite everyone forward, and deacons offer communion to those who remain in their seats either by infrimity or choice.

    My belief is that most Disciples of Christ Churches have a similar policy related to communion.
     
  15. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    I find it interesting that Jesus invited to his Table those who had no earthly idea what he was going to do with the meal, and had no developed concept of "what it was going to mean" -- and didn't have a developed concept for "what it meant" for quite some time...indeed, we're still attempting to figure it out!

    I think it's a little presumptuous for us (who do not fully have a handle on its "meaning") to deny it to some, just because they don't "grasp its meaning."
    At what point can we equitably say that one has an "adequate understanding?" What constitutes an "adequate understanding," anyway? How do we evaluate that meaning? Don't we all approach Christ "Just as I am?" Or am I just "writing the words to a sermon that noone will hear? (from another poll/thread)
     
  16. uu_sage

    uu_sage Active Member

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    As a Christian Universalist, I believe that all living beings are God's children created in the divine image and we are called to be stewards of the Lord's good creation. Since all souls, Christian or not, are headed for salvation, and since all are held in God's extravagant love and grace, all are welcome at Christ's table. This is not a Protestant table nor a Catholic table but this is God's table. People are free to interpret the wine and the bread in light of their experience and to develop their understandings of what communion means to them. Communion gives us as disciples of Jesus food for the journey of life and responding to the call of God for justice, liberation, inclusion and transformation. The kingdom of God, Jesus said, is present in our midst. We are co-creators with God in transforming the human race into the human family. As one famous soul said, "Christ has no body but ours, and has no hands but ours". Our brother Jesus made very clear when he said "Come all you, take eat, take drink as often as you can in remembrance of me"
     
  17. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    I agree. I'm very quickly losing any vestige of "gatekeeping" with regard to the Eucharist. I feel that any who would come, be they Xian, Jew, Atheist -- whatever -- are welcome to be there, if they wish. That's my personal stance -- and it's the one I advocate in my congregation, as it is a good practice of radical hospitality.
     
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