Closed Communion: An Oxymoron




Communion is celebrated by Christians on every continent and possibly now in every nation-state on the planet. In part, communion serves as a picture of the unity of the Body of Christ. Originally a shared meal based upon the final passover celebration enjoyed by Jesus and his disciples, it has become one of the very few things which is held in common by an incredibly diverse community all over the world. That's why it's called communion. How strange that this symbol of Christian unity would be the source of division and exclusivity. Catholic, Orthodox, and numerous Protestant denominations have held that it is "religiously illegal" to share communion with other brothers and sisters who are not part of their specific Christian community. Closed communion is an oxymoron. It is a contradiction in terms. And I believe it breaks the heart of God.

I am reading a book called Kissing the Leper, by Brad Jersak. His church is part of the emergent reformation going on. They have ordained mentally disabled people of faith in their congregation who have an uncanny ability to speak, albeit disruptively at times, straight into the heart of a situation. They also listen to children who have a track record of spiritual discernment. They practice an open table at communion for absolutely anyone hungry for the forgiveness of sins offered by Jesus Christ. Jersak does a wonderful job exegeting the cleansing of the temple passages, pointing out that some of those normally excluded from the temple courts (the lame) were the first to come in after he had made space for them. It was there that Jesus proclaimed his Father's house was to be a place of prayer for all nations (i.e. even the ultimate excluded community: Gentiles).

How can we challenge centuries of tradition and encourage a renewed sense of community amongst all who love and follow Jesus as their savior?

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