27 This is why those who eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord inappropriately will be guilty of the Lord’s body and blood. 28 Each individual should test himself or herself, and eat from the bread and drink from the cup in that way. 29 Those who eat and drink without correctly understanding the body are eating and drinking their own judgment. 30 Because of this, many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few have died. 31 But if we had judged ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. 32 However, we are disciplined by the Lord when we are judged so that we won’t be judged and condemned along with the whole world. 33 For these reasons, my brothers and sisters, when you get together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If some of you are hungry, they should eat at home so that getting together doesn’t lead to judgment. I will give directions about the other things when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:27-34, CEB)
I know this verse has been used by many denominations to keep people who are not members of that denomination to not have communion with them. It is called a closed table. And in the ELCA we practice an open table, which means, as we were taught in seminary, any baptized believer is welcome to come to the table and receive communion. I argued that that is a closed table, because unbaptized believers couldn’t come. And I was told baptized believer is an open welcoming statement. Because we are not saying you have to be ELCA, you can be any believing Christian. Well ok we could go back and forth on semantics here, but I can see that.
But isn’t it interesting the way that verse is worded?
“Those who eat and drink without correctly understanding the body are eating and drinking their own judgment.”
Those who eat and drink without correctly understanding are eating and drinking their own judgment. Understand what? without understanding the body. What body?
The body of Christ? We are all the body. So when you take the bread and wine and think that the flesh and blood are only for you, or for those who think exactly the same as you, or are in the same class as you, or fit the mold that you fit then you are eating and drinking to your own judgment. We know that this is given and shed for all people, not just your chosen circle or people. All. Everyone you like and everyone you don’t. No one deserves a seat, but Christ opened the doors for all.
So if everyone isn’t welcome, maybe you need to rethink your understanding and skip the trip to the table until you can have everyone there.
Love People. Love God.