Let Us Break Bread at a Table Where All Are Welcome
Communion is a holy and sacred sacrament in our church and in thousands of other churches across the country and around the world, but it is not without controversy.
As members of the United Methodist Church, we believe that all are to be welcomed to the table. There is no judgment rendered, no membership needed, no identification required. That, we believe, is what Jesus intended from the origin of the Sacrament at the Last Supper.
Not all denominations share that same approach, however. Some churches subscribe to the belief that if one is not baptized into that denomination, they may not partake of the Eucharist, thereby denying access to those who do not belong. While we respect the policies and practices of other denominations, we certainly do not agree with the principle of exclusivity, especially when it comes to communion.
There are other differences among Christians when it comes to the sacrament of communion. For example, Martin Luther, a prominent leader of the Protestant Reformation, believed in transubstantiation — the idea that the bread and wine were actually transformed into the physical flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. This may be based on a passage from the Gospel of John (6:53-58), which states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.”
John Wesley, on the other hand, believed as many as us do today, that the bread and wine (or juice) are symbolic, but no less important, representations of Jesus’ body and blood.
What one believes in this regard is less important than how one approaches the sacrament of communion — and that is to (1) treat it with great reverence and respect, (2) rely on it to affirm our covenant with the Lord, and (3) make sure that the table is open to all who seek to partake of this blessed tradition passed down to each of us by Jesus himself.
Let us all come together in a spirit of unity as we celebrate World Communion Sunday this weekend.
Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John