The Eucharist As The Table Of Jesus
Jesus invites all to come and see that God is good.
Matthew 11: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Jesus didn’t put roadblocks before people who honestly want to follow Him, who want to learn from him how life should be lead, who trusts in him and what he did on the cross. He was gentle with Peter who denied him three times. He was even gentle with Saul who was persecuting the church. He is gentle with all who come to him. Or, as Eugene Petersons The Message has Jesus say in Matthew 11: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Who are we to put barriers between the love and grace of Jesus and the people who need the same love and grace we feel. Christians should not exclude anyone who wants Jesus. Our lives will look more and more like the life of our Lord. I believe that the only barrier we should place before the communion table of Our Lord and everyone is their willingness really to follow Jesus. Anyone can open this gate. Anyone who is willing to welcome Jesus into their hearts and souls should be welcome at the table of Jesus.
I have been writing about the Eucharist not because I am a pastor or theologian, because I am not. I am a mere Christian who is seeking and learning what it means to call Jesus Lord and Savior, to really believe Jesus died for my sins and what it means to really follow Jesus. I know there are things about the Eucharist I don’t quite understand, but I do find great power and meaning in the act of partaking of the bread and wine. I believe everyone who accepts Jesus and trusts their life to him should be welcomed at the table of Jesus. If that means I accept open communion then so be it.
As Barbara Brown Taylor wrote in An Altar In The World, “I am not in charge of this house, and never will be. I have no say about who is in and who is out. I do not get to make the rules. I am a guest here, charged with serving other guests—even those who present themselves as my enemies. I am allowed to resist them, but as long as I trust in one God who made us all, I cannot act as if they are no kin to me. There is only one house. Human beings will either learn to live in it together or we will not survive to hear its sigh of relief when our numbered days are done.”
Welcoming all people to the table of Jesus doesn’t mean we have to accept everything about them. It is not up to me to protect Jesus from the wrong kind of people. Jesus spent his life with the wrong people; He came not to call the righteous but sinners. He accepted all who came to him. What I am to do is love and serve everyone, even the people who don’t accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. My hope is everyone will eventually approach the table of Jesus.
Some Christians like to mention that so and so is in hell or that so and so will not make it to heaven. They say this almost with glee, as if heaven would be a total let down if some of those people got in somehow. One of those people is Gandhi. At one time, I would say Gandhi is not in hell. Now, I must say that I just don’t know and it is not up to me say if he or anyone else is in hell or heaven. I can say that I do hope that he is in heaven and the Dali Lama will find himself in the glories of heaven. My calling to follow Jesus doesn’t include assigning anyone their eternal destination, but to love and serve everyone. I would like to see more Christians take up the call to love everyone. To sow love where there is hatred, as the St. Francis prayer says.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “In each of our lives Jesus comes as the Bread of Life—to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how He loves us. Then Jesus comes in our human life as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the Bread of our life, our hearts by loving, and our hands by serving. In loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is Love and when we love we are like God. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
I pray that each partaking of the bread and wine will bring us closer and closer to living as Jesus did and that I express and extend the same love and grace that God has lavished on me. May each of us come to the table of Jesus not for what it will give us, but for what we can and will share with others. God loves us, but that is only where it begins. We are invited to the table of Jesus, but that is only the beginning. Let’s partake of the bread and wine and then take the Eucharist with out into the world.
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