A Gathering Voices post by Beth Pyles
My friend Liz Crumlish, a minister in the Church of Scotland, posted these words from her sermon clippings blog Something to Stand On the other day as she ruminated about communion:
What matters is that everyone feels welcome here at this table, that everyone feels able to share, that everyone knows that this is for them, that Gods grace touches us all here. That is what matters in communion – the touch of God’s grace. We have shrouded the love and the grace that Jesus wanted us to celebrate, we have shrouded that love and grace in ritual and formality and tradition. . . . [but] we are called to be not so much gatekeepers as inn keepers. Not keeping folks out but drawing people in. Welcoming people . . . whose hands may not be as clean as we’d like but who, along with us, God calls beloved children. . . [people very much like . . . us].
Liz says that what matters is that everyone feel welcome at the table, that God’s grace touches all there, that we are not gatekeepers; rather we are innkeepers.
Long ago we Presbyterians abandoned the practice of dispensing communion tokens for entry to the table.
Yet we continue to have so many rules of admittance, many of them unspoken or unacknowledged. But they are very real.
The Session where I serve pondered this question about communion some time ago: who, coming to the table, would we refuse to serve?
It probably makes us heretics, but the universal answer around the table that day was: no one.
No one who comes should or would be turned away by us.
The common thread in the discussion was the very Presbyterian idea that God draws us to God.
And with that understanding – that those who come to the table are coming in answer to God’s own pull – our answer was easy: how could we stand in their way?
That was the day we came to see ourselves as innkeepers rather than gatekeepers.