A Crowded Table

We celebrate Holy Communion at my church every Sunday.  I love this about us.

It speaks to me that after all is said and done in our weekly gatherings, we break bread, pour the cup and are filled with Jesus before we leave to go out into the world. 

And we do it together--as one.  Which wasn't always the case. 

This past year we came to the realization that when we were welcoming everyone to the table, we were relegating our members and friends who had gluten intolerances and allergies to a different station than everyone else. 

Funny.  We thought we were being inclusive by offering an alternative.  But by singling people out, it just highlighted their differences, and despite all of our good intentions we weren't really being all that healing or life-giving.

So we made all of the bread we use for Holy Communion gluten and allergy free.  No more isolated stations.  No more differences.  All of us together. 

One of our members emailed us and told us that she had never realized how much it would mean to her not to have to go to a separate station to receive the elements. 

As she stood in line with everyone else on the first day we made the change, she said tears of joy began running down her face.  We heard similar stories from others as well, and we knew that we'd made the right decision. 

Lately, I  have been listening to the excellent new album by the Highwomen, which has a song I  absolutely love entitled "Crowded Table."  The lyrics go something like this: 

Yeah I want a house with a crowded table
And a place by the fire for everyone

The door is always open

Your picture's on my wall
Everyone's a little broken
And everyone belongs
Yeah, everyone belongs. 

Sometimes, I think about all those who gather with us on Sundays who haven't always felt welcomed to the table.  People who struggle with faith... or who have felt rejected by the Church... or who have been relegated to isolated places... 

If you want a crowded table that is filled with life and love, and a place for everyone by the fire... If you want people to know that they are loved and cherished by God, accepted and welcomed...

You have to set a place for them.  

You have to let them know that their picture is on the wall... that they are home.  They need to know they are among friends--friends who are all a little broken, but all of whom belong. 

And that there is no "them"...  there is only us.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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