In the Church of the Nazarene, we practice open communion. We participate in the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist once a month during ordinary time and each week during Advent and Lent. Communion is a sacrament. It is a a sign of God’s grace in our lives. And this grace is offered to all and we remind our church that all are invited to participate in this sacramental meal. When we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we are remembering Jesus’ broken body and spilled blood on the cross. But we are also re-membering ourselves as the body of Christ. It is a beautiful thing when we stop and reflect on the mystery of Christ’s presence among us in the elements but also among the people who are participating in the suffering of Christ as we await our participation in Christ’s resurrection.
During Lent of this past year we started bringing our littlest worshippers back in the sanctuary with us so they too can participate in God’s grace and presence of Christ.
Some might say, “but they don’t know what they are doing.” “They shouldn’t participate without first confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior.” “What about Paul’s instructions on receiving it in an unworthy manner?” (that’s for another post and a better understanding of the context happening in Corinth)
I grew up rarely participating in communion. We would do it once a quarter and the thinking was that if we did it too often it would become rote and lose its meaning. Really? The meal that Christ ordained and commanded the first Christians to do become a dead ritual? If you think about it, that’s the most ridiculous excuse. We could say the same thing for singing or dare I say preaching! I also grew up visiting my grandparents Lutheran church and they would participate in communion every week. It was a beautiful part of the service, but it was closed for only Lutheran members. I never understood this either. I always wanted to sneak into the line going up to receive the bread and wine, but never got enough courage and thought I would get into a lot of trouble from my family.
Now that I’m the lead pastor of a church in the Wesleyan tradition, I want to invite everyone to the table. John Wesley believed we should receive communion constantly. He himself participated in communion multiple times a week. God’s grace is sufficient for all. None of us are really ever worthy enough. I want to be a church that says all are welcome. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or where you are in your journey. When we come forward and hear the words, “the body of Christ broken for YOU, the blood of Christ shed for YOU” we are invited into the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
I love seeing our group of little toddlers learning the practices of the church and even though they don’t really understand what they’re doing, it’s a beautiful sign of God’s grace for all of us!