i've just finished reading "A New Kind of Christian" by Brian McLaren. he wrote it over a decade ago and in fact his most recent book is "A New Kind of Christianity" is next on my reading hit list. i think it has affected me profoundly already, particularly regarding the discussion we've been having in our church community regarding communion and the place of the other within the Christian church. if you want to read more about this then go ahead and read this.
i got into a brief discussion last night about the issue of communion as i walked with 2 beautiful women of God on our way home from a meeting. we discussed our recent communion discussion in our community and i quickly came to realize that i stood at a polar opposite position from one of these 2 women. she stated that we should remain true to the idea that communion is linked directly to baptism in our community because she believes they are linked. she stated that Jesus shared the communion circle with those who were closest to him for a reason and communion should be reserved for believers. she went so far as to say that we should create a new ritual involving everyone during worship and then we should return the eucharist celebration to our member's only gatherings.
i couldn't disagree more. i resisted the urge to argue because that is not the spirit that i want to portray in our community discussion since we work within a consensus model. instead, i listened but still, i disagreed with her position.
why is it that we concern ourselves with who's in and who's out? why ask the question? why wonder where a person stands in their relationship with Christ? is that any of our business? we don't decide in any way where a person's soul ends up so what's the point of putting all of these parameters on people in order to cubbyhole them as People of God or seeker or sinner or all of the above. by the way, the answer to the question, regardless of who is being cubbyholed is "ALL OF THE ABOVE". i don't care if it's a bishop or a prostitute standing in front of me asking for the grace of Christ present in communion. here my friend, have some grace. be at peace, be loved by Christ.
i won't ask; where do you stand brother? what's your relationship with Jesus sister? have you declared yourself as a disciple?
by asking for the elements you take a step of faith. by taking part you declare and if you're only looking for a piece of bread because you're hungry, then that's what you'll get. if you're looking for more ... because your spirit hungers ... then that's what you'll get.
so what of the connection to baptism? well, who connected it to baptism? the church did. not Jesus. i'm not saying there's anything wrong with that but if it causes someone to stumble in their attempt to get to God then i say get it out of the way.
what about the fact that Jesus shared the first eucharist with his friends? well, he also shared it with Judas so how do we exclude the stranger?
the more i think about the ministry of Jesus the more i see the importance of the relationship with the other, the seeker. Jesus pushed the boundaries of what was accepted for the sake of relationship. he continually played the role of the Good Shepherd and he left the 99 so that he could go out and find the 1 that was lost. he knocked down spiritual walls so that he could reach out and offer grace.
that's what i want to be doing too.
so you see, we ask the wrong questions. we're locked in our little cubbyhole and we can't see that grace should be available to all as they act in faith. the eucharist can be transforming if we let it so the questions we should be asking are no questions at all. the step of faith required is in the asking for the elements. i don't need to know where a person is on their spiritual journey, i only need to offer grace as it is present in the elements. let that act change lives instead of trying to force our cubbyhole on lives.
be blessed my friends. because you are.