It struck me again in last week’s Lenten Midweek message. I spoke of Holy Communion and the question that has been under discussion in the church for - oh, just a little less than 2000 years: Who is “worthy” to receive the Sacrament? It’s odd that it’s still a question. The answer has been studied, written, and preached for just that long – all who long for God’s grace and forgiveness! But the worm in this apple is one little phrase in I Corinthians that mentions receiving in “an unworthy manner.” In the context, the meaning is clear: the holy meal was taking place in a community-meal setting, and “each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk.” The Apostle Paul says that such behavior shows contempt for the church of God and humiliates some of the members. He urges them to recognize that they – as community – are the body of Christ. So who is the Sacrament for? All who yearn for God’s grace and forgiveness.
And who is the church for? Well, that is clear as well. It is for good people. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Or, maybe it is for everyone, but we would like some to admit that they are not quite as good as I (or we, or the rest of us). Again, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! For almost 2000 years the New Testament message has been clear: “God justifies the ungodly;” “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost;” “God, be merciful to me, a sinner; “Father, forgive them….” But ever since Constantine made the church respectable, the old serpent invites us to get it wrong, to carry the idea that this is a place for good people; and to assume we have the right to decide who that means! Friends, the church is for you and me and everyone else who will never get it right, but who yearns for grace and forgiveness and acceptance. The constant challenge for the church is to get over ourselves, forget about judging, and be led by the Spirit to deal with others without being paternalistic or condescending. Otherwise we are concealing the Good News we are called to proclaim.
At Christ the King the Table is open. The doors are open. May the same be true of every heart!