For the love of God!: pondering an open table

Happy Easter Sunday everyone! I hope it’s been a great day for you. For me it’s been a very contemplative one to say the least. This morning I was able to take part in a wonderful church service. It was also a surprising one rather than preaching out of Mathew, Mark, Luke, or John as I expected pastor Charlie told everyone to flip to first Corinthians. Specifically 1 Corinthians 15:12-26. This passage talks about the importance of the resurrection of Christ which was also Charlie’s point. It was a good message that I found insightful and well articulated, but two verses in particular caught my attention.

Verse 22
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (NIV)

And

Verse 26
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” ( NIV)

I loved the inclusive nature of verse 22 and I wondered what other enemies might be destroyed upon the return of Christ. Hate? Greed? Elitism? Exclusionism? (The last one isn’t a word. I know, but it should be)

The latter really got my mind going and I began to trail off into my own thoughts. (sorry Charlie) I went off dreaming of a world where the Church accepted all people without reserve. I thought of another verse from Paul that I’d read recently Galatians 3:28 where Paul states:

[In Christ] There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV brackets mine)

I also remembered reading Peter Rollins “the Idolatry of God” where he divided these into the Religious (Jew and Gentile), the Political (slave and free), and the Biological (Male and Female). Identities that were considered sacred in that day, but Paul believes our identity in Christ transcends all other categories to the point that they cease to exist. It is only reasonable to assume that this also includes gay and straight, and any other categories that place some inside the circle while excluding others.

It was at this point I was snapped back into the service by Charlie who was preparing the congregation to receive communion, and it’s at this point that I became painfully aware of so many in the LGBTQ community as well as other often considered “outsider” communities sitting in churches that morning who would be denied communion based on a perceived “lifestyle choice.” (Which of corse it is not) This realization broke my heart and as I received communion this morning I began to cry for all those who could not get to do so.

I then became angry at the absurdity of it all. Who the hell decided they had the right to deny anyone communion!? As they said before taking communion at the church I grew up in “This is not our table. It is the Lords table.” Last I checked when The Lord was walking around here on earth he was always getting in trouble for eating with all the “wrong people” the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the zealots, you know those sinners…
When did we decide that God needed bouncers at God’s table?

Until we have an unashamedly and unapologetically open table for the Eucharist we have missed the point! Until we can turn to those that we previously considered the other, the LGBT person, the fundamentalist, the homeless man, the 1%, the tea partier, the liberal. Until we can look at the other and say the “body of Christ broken for you” and until we have ears to hear them say “the blood of Christ shed for you” the significance and beauty found in the Eucharist is meaningless. We need those that we consider the other. The other is exactly who will convert us back to the faith again and again, and in learning to love the other we learn to love Christ more fully.

A god needs bouncers at the table, that’s to say a god who’s love is not enough to extend to all people is not worth believing in. A god so small as to only love those worthy of it is a god that should have stayed in the tomb, but brothers and sisters that’s where there is real good news! Our God IS love. Our God IS risen! But unlike what is popularly preached the tomb is not empty. When Christ died he took with him the systems of Hate, Greed, Elitism, and, Exclusionism, nationalism, and materialism. Christianity in is purest form transcends these systems! Let us live into this transcendent reality. Alive is a better way of doing life! Alive is a savior! Alive is out God!
Praise be to God! Now that is something to celebrate!

I’ll end this post similarly to how I’ve ended others, with a word of hope.

The Love of Christ extends to all people. There is nothing you can say or do or be that can keep you from the love of God, and anyone who tells you differently is lying to you.
Grace, Peace, and Mercy is yours from the triune God. Happy Easter. Amen.

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