Invitation: Come as You Are

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Most of our experience with communion is in a fairly formal setting. The priest or worship leader takes us through a familiar ritual. The bread is dedicated specifically to the purpose of communion. Depending on your tradition and beliefs, it may or may not be considered sacred but, knowing what it symbolizes, we all treat it with reverence and respect. As far as reenactments of Jesus’s last supper go, it’s pretty inaccurate.

The Gospel of Matthew tells us: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread…” No one processed into the room with consecrated wafers or a loaf with a slit in the bottom to make it easier to break. There may have been unleavened bread on the table for a traditional Passover meal, but otherwise it was unremarkable. Jesus used bread that was already present — and possibly half-eaten. The cup was just a cup. The gathered disciples would have washed it up after the meal with all the other cups and by the next morning probably couldn’t remember which one it had been.

Then there’s Judas. In all four Gospels, Jesus is aware his betrayer is at the table. He doesn’t identify Judas by name. He doesn’t exclude Judas from the meal. Instead Jesus shows him the same love and offers him the same blessing as everyone present.

The last supper — or first Eucharist — was made of the ordinary: the half-eaten, backwash-tainted, treacherous things and people at hand. It was sacred not because of the sanctity of the elements, but because Christ’s transformational presence makes the ordinary sacred. Your participation in communion does not require your perfection; it requires humble recognition of your deeply flawed nature. That’s the door through which Christ’s broken body and shed blood enter and transform you. And nobody can shut it but you.

If Christ welcomed even Judas at the first Eucharist, what possible reason could there be for anyone to be excluded? Who can say: “I get to determine who is worthy of the grace Christ gives freely?” We don’t get to decide that about other people, and other people don’t get to decide that about us. We don’t even get to decide it for ourselves. Communion isn’t about the perfect loaf of bread for the perfect people. It’s about Christ turning leftovers into a banquet that feeds the world.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

 

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