Religion and Unity, or A Brief Apology for Open Communion

A thought from the day - not a new one:

Religion, of course, functions as an instrument of both unity and division - it unifies the folks inside and divides them off from the folks outside. The goal for good religion these days, along w/professing things that are true (cough), is throwing the doors open more widely on the unity side - bringing more people together.

In the Christian tradition - and particularly the Anglican/Catholic traditions - the key symbol of unity is the Eucharist - the physical act of 'communion' with bread and wine. Historically our communion has been 'closed', meaning only 'members' (or sometimes professing Christians) can have it. This, of course, is scandalous and crazy. The Eucharist, shared w/all who would take it, is a way that Christianity can present a universal God to the world - open to all and present in all, regardless of their confession. Members only crap is wrong - unchristian, I think.

Comments

Jordan said…
Amen. The other day I was hankering for a simple midweek Eucharist service. St. Paul's Episcopal wasn't offering one during the time that I wanted, so I thought well I bet the catholic church across the street is, and of course they were. But then I quickly decided against it because I knew I would not be welcome at the table. I felt very sad about being excluded from God's table.
Tim Mathis said…
Which is why it can be helpful to not have a guy at the top deciding who gets the Bread of Heaven.

Open Table Anglicans are the catholic-est!
bob said…
Jordan, You aren't "excluded". You don't want to be "included". To be part of that eucharist (like the one at any Orthodox Church, for that matter) you simply have to be married to it. To be married involves a sacrament, and that means commitment, a promise to be married to no one else. That's been the image of Christian worship for 2000 years. Episcopalians don't follow it. You can be a Muslim and be a layman (actually without publicity you can be a cleric in the Episcopal church and be a Muslim). Now it might surprise you, but no Catholic or Orthodox thinks this is sane. Or Christian. So you exclude yourself, not the other way round.
Catholics and Orthodox also believe the Creed unequivocally. Episcopalians don't and it's not infrequent to see the drop it altogether (very honest of them, actually). If you can't say all the things that lead up to receiving communion, why bother. It's very clear in the liturgy of Catholics and Orthodox, the common faith is first proclaimed, then communion is received, not before. If one doesn't think marriage is real (Episcopalians think any two of anything can be married) then the marriage imagery means nothing. So it will continue to be confusing to Episcopalians as to why they should receive communion only with those who believe (or don't) as they do. You notice few if any Catholics or Orthodox feel the same need, to commune with Anglicans? Open communion is just as sensible as open marriage. And Episcopalians do both. Catholics and Orthodox don't. It's a religious thing.
Tim Mathis said…
I suppose the only appropriate response to Bob is an invitation to communion - 'The body of Christ, the bread of heaven. The blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.'
bob said…
Gee....How can we put this delicately? Some men and some women get a reputation for being willing to, shall we say, kiss anybody. To say that you got to kiss them means very little; it means much, so much more to say you have never kissed them. They aren't taken very seriously and don't see why. I assume you take other sacraments as loosely as communion? They mean that little? For some they mean quite alot and so missing yours isn't missing anything. I can see why it's confusing that others aren't as "hospitable" with Communion. It's going to be confusing for a long time.
Tim Mathis said…
eucharist slut! classic!
Jordan said…
Well since Jesus shared bread with every type of person that the religous folk deemed unworthy, I'll consider myself in good company.
Anonymous said…
Okay, I am an Episcopalian with a mother who was raised Catholic. Imagine me going to church with my grandparents. I can't take communion! It all boils down to church history. The Roman Catholic Church only officially acknowledges baptized Catholics at communion because way back when Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, all denominations other than Catholicism were deemed heretical. Now for the whole issue of cheapening communion...let's not go there with just any possible metaphor. That is just not right. If we want to cheapen communion, use the little plastic disk shooters to serve the wafers and dollar store squirt guns to deliver the wine.
Gabrielle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabrielle said…
Amen, Jordan. I second that.
I am confused. What does taking communion have to do with kissing? And why does sharing communion with all who want it mean that you're not taking it seriously? Putting thought into whom we include and why is taking it seriously. It brings forth awareness and discernment of what could otherwise become a rote act, performed on autopilot.
Tim Mathis said…
And just to be clear - I wasn't initially being facetious (or trampy) with the 'communion' comment. I really do think we should share the Table w/Bob.

I believe in a theology of the real presence, which is one of the motivators behind an 'open table'.

Who'd of thunk this would be one of my most controversial posts ever?

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