The table will be wide: Come, all are welcome

When I reflect on my Easter faith, communion is a distinctive feature. Preaching in the ‘My Easter Faith’ series at St Chrysostom’s my sermon was a reflection on communion outside of the church and how it is a way we carry Easter with us through the rest of the year. Communion connects me to the communities I worship with. It creates a sense of belonging and acceptance. Communion literally means “sharing.” It’s supposed to bring everyone together as one body. Every Sunday, we proclaim together. “Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread.”

I shared a story from a retreat with the other American volunteers. One evening, we gathered around a campfire and participated in a remembrance of communion since we did not have an ordained pastor present to bless the items in a sacred way.  We broke bread and passed a cup of wine around the circle as we retold the story of the last supper. Jesus gathered with his friends for a meal, similar to the one we were sharing around the fire.

Collage: The Best Supper © Jan L. Richardson

Although the bread and wine were not blessed in the sacred way we do at church, the meaning behind these elements still existed. Everyone around the circle was invited to share in this meal of remembrance. Throughout the sharing of bread and wine, laughs and smiles were abundant. I felt the Holy Spirit blowing in the wind. God’s love shined like the star-filled sky. In that moment, God’s presences burned as bright as our campfire.

Communion continues to happen outside the church, even during times when bread and wine are not present. I have experienced communion when I have been invited to meals with members of this congregation. Even sharing a cup of tea with someone creates a sense of communion. Sharing a cup of tea has lead to conversations with a variety of people and experiencing God’s presence in these moments

I read a poem titled, ‘And the Table Will be Wide,’ written by Jan Richardson.

And the Table Will Be Wide:

And the table
will be wide.
And the welcome
will be wide.
And the arms
will open wide
to gather us in.
And our hearts
will open wide
to receive.

And we will come
as children who trust
there is enough.
And we will come
unhindered and free.
And our aching
will be met
with bread.
And our sorrow
will be met
with wine.

And we will open our hands
to the feast
without shame.
And we will turn
toward each other
without fear.
And we will give up
our appetite
for despair.
And we will taste
and know
of delight.

And we will become bread
for a hungering world.
And we will become drink
for those who thirst.
And the blessed
will become the blessing.
And everywhere

I shared this poem because I think it beautifully illustrates communion. It describes the way communion nourishes us to share God’s compassion and love. The poem reminds us that there is always room at the table, the table is never full. It’s not always easy to sit at the table with some people. But, no matter who the person was, the outcast, the sick, the prostitute, Jesus invited them to fellowship.

I challenged the congregation to reflect on the ways they engage in communion outside of the church.Inviting people into communion can be difficult, but communion gives us hope and reminds us of God’s everlasting love.

Come, all are welcome. Let us break bread together.

Hannah Loeffler-Kemp, Parish Assistant

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About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community where people of differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
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