An open table

In Christianity, we partake of what is called “the Eucharist” or “the Lord’s Supper.” It is a sacrament or ritual of consuming bread and wine and remembering the death of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

There is a question, though, of just who should partake in this sacrament. Most churches and denominations limit it to baptized believers. The Catholic Church only opens the sacrament to those who are Roman Catholic. (One time I cheated and partook of the sacred elements despite not being a Roman Catholic. It made me fairly nervous, though, such that I didn’t even eat the wafer until I was out in the car in the parking lot!)

I attended a UCC (United Church of Christ) church this weekend, a church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The UCC is at the top of the list of my “denominational sweepstakes giveaway” program; that is, I am considering joining the UCC.

The UCC has an open table. The Eucharist is open to all, believer or non-believer. I like this. I like it even more after seeing their “invitation to communion and prayer of consecration.” Here is what was printed in their bulletin:

“The first time Jesus sat down to this meal, among those gathered there was one who would doubt him, one who would deny him, one who would betray him, and they would all leave him alone before that night was over – and he knew it. Still he sat down and ate with them. If he ate with them, surely he’s ready to eat with us – baptized or not, confessed or not, Christian or not, sure or not, believer or not, saint or sinner or a little of both. All you have to be to eat at this table is hungry.”

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

4 thoughts on “An open table”

  1. Love this post, Jon. When the “inviting” language of a church rules me out, sometimes I sit it out but at least once I went ahead and took the communion (though I too felt I was somehow breaking the law). “Hunger” really gets to the substance of the matter. Good luck with your denominational sweepstakes! I go to the woods and water and my desk.


    1. I’ve never thought of Eucharist as a place for the spiritually hungry. Funny, huh? Funny because it is a fairly obvious connection that I’ve never made, at least not in any significant way. In the past I’ve seen it as a symbol of the sacrificial atonement of Christ; I’ve also seen it as sort of a purifying moment. I have to say, though, that viewing the Eucharist as a gathering of the spiritually hungry–for all who are hungry–that is profound.


Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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