For me, one of the most important aspects of our worship at Woodland, is when we observe communion each Sunday. After more than four years, this one act of worship still speaks to me of the stark difference of my past experience with Christ and the Church and the drastic transition that has occurred. I previously served in churches where participation in communion was limited only to those who were members of the local church observing communion. It was, most often, a time of exclusion from God’s gifts, rather than a time of remembrance of the greatest gift of God in His son, Jesus. It was a time to discuss who was “worthy” to participate. Leading communion was reserved only to clergy and serving was a responsibility of the deacons. Only they were considered worthy.
Yesterday, as we worshiped, we came to that time in our service. The projector flashed a slide with an image especially chosen for that moment labeled “Communion.” I, the Pastor; the only one “worthy” to lead, kept my seat. Four women (and one child) gathered behind the communion table and prepared to lead us in the observance and to serve communion. The scene was really not that unusual for Woodland. But, for some reason, this time it caught my attention. I took my place in line at the appropriate time and as the line inched forward, I took a piece of the bread from an African American lesbian who serves as one of our elders. “The body of Christ broken for you,” she said. Then, I dipped my bread in the cup served to me by a recovering addict who is not even a member of our church. “The blood of Christ shed for you.”
How utterly appropriate, I thought. The ordained, white, ex-Baptist, gay Pastor served communion by these two women; neither had theological training or ordination. Who is worthy? At the table, we are reminded that no one is worthy. It was for this reason that He came. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) Yet, we are all worthy. That is the result of the grace that has been extended to each and every person without condition, prejudice or qualification. There is no better place to be reminded of this truth than the sacred table where we remember the sacrifice of Jesus for every person.
It is such a relief every time I realize that it is not my place or responsibility to determine who is worthy. How thankful I am to be able to serve in a church that truly recognizes the worth and value of each and every person, regardless of who they are or where they are in their journey. It is a core value that is not only preached, but practiced, even at the communion table. Thanks be to God!