A few weeks ago, I wrote a poem inspired by a prompt to "write a poem that is a toast." Honestly, I've not made that many toasts in my life, so I entered the exercise thinking of weddings, adult birthday parties, and the like.
But as I scribbled my notes and the words began to flow, I realized that what I was writing wasn't a toast for the kind of celebration I'd had in mind when I put pen to paper.
The celebration I was writing a toast for was the kind I celebrate with my congregation each Sunday when we gather at the Lord's Table and celebrate the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist, depending on what you call it based on your background.
Here's what I wrote:
"The Toast"Here we are,All of us together;The broken and the bleeding,The blind and the lame.We sit at this tableBereft of those labels,Because this tableRequires something more.It requires us to let goOf all our names;The names that defineWho we are separately,And we are called somethingElse instead of those names.We are called "Blessed,""Beloved," "Chosen," and "Redeemed."So drink and eat,All of us together,So we might live and move,And breathe and loveAs new creations,Let loose in the worldTo discover who we truly are,And who we are becoming.Amen.
I loved how that poem unfolded and the imagery that came in a flood as I realized what I was writing about as I was writing. It happens that way sometimes, I've learned.
At my church, we celebrate Holy Communion every Sunday, which, in addition to being mandated by the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order (even though most Presbyterian churches use a loophole to celebrate it less), is a practice keeping with centuries of Christian tradition.
Holy Communion is such an essential part of Christian worship because it reminds us who we are and whose we are. Our liturgy teaches us that "in life and death we belong to God," and when we gather at the Table of the Lord, we remember that.
We also remember that Jesus invites us to the Table, much as he did when he set the example of the Lord's Supper with his disciples on Holy Thursday over two thousand years ago.
We come to the Table in all our infinite variety, our brokenness, and with labels that the world around us, and even we, have affixed to one another.
We come to the Table embodying the Kingdom of God, showing the world and one another what it looks like when we put aside our differences and divisions and simply eat and drink together in the name of Jesus.
No one is excluded. No one.
And any institution that claims to be Christian that excludes people from the Table does so "unworthily," as the Apostle Paul states in his First Letter to the Corinthians.
There's no addendum to that statement. There's no loophole. Because when Christians are deciding who can take in Christ and then carry Christ out in the world, they are taking the place of Christ, who is the host and the One who invites.
So the next time you have the opportunity to celebrate Holy Communion at your place of worship, look around in love at the people you've gathered with. Know that each one of you is invited, each cherished and chosen.
And then let yourself be transformed by the meal itself. You are taking Christ into your life. You are being transformed by Christ's presence to be Christ to the world around you.
Let this toast, this poem inspire you today as you reflect on all the ways that we are called to come to the Table as we are, and leave changed, set free to become the people God longs for us to be.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.