Friday, February 17, 2012

Inclusive Eucharist

Inclusion in the Eucharist…

I have had this insane thought. Let us change the rule “Only the baptized can receive the Eucharist” to “The Eucharist can only occur when all who wish to receive are baptized”. Maybe I am insane but if there is someone sitting in your parish pew who is not baptized but wants to receive communion then it is a problem with the parish and not with the person. The parish is the one with the power in the situation.

I remember a Sunday a bit back when I was at an Episcopal Church with a group of guys who where all actively engaged in building a relationship with God but were not yet baptized. Now this was not my regular church and I was rather shocked when the Priest came out and made a very emphatic statement about how only baptized Christians should take communion. It was as close to a “we are going to check membership at the communion rail” statement I had hear in the ECUSA. Now the guys looked at me for some sort of clue as to what to do and I said we will go up and get blessed. Now they were confused and one said “but you are baptized” and I said “sure, but I am here with you”.

As far as I can tell when the religious establishment draws a line between people who are in and people who are out, Jesus wants us to be with the people who are out. The problem with inclusive Eucharist is that instead of the people of God making a sacrifice, which means making themselves holy, to be with those who the church has put on the outside we are instead seeking a way to not actually give up any of our power or comfort for the sake of this other, for the sake of the very person we are supposedly present in the world to sacrifice for.

What would this mean in practice? At the end of the offertory the priest asks “is there any one who wishes to take communion with us who is not baptized” and if there is any one then there is no communion. The community recognizes the value of the new individual by recognizing its incompleteness in not having that one in their midst and thus recognizes it is now unable to have a Eucharistic moment. Or if that is too much to ask that there be a group of baptized Christians who place themselves aside each Sunday and instead of partaking of the Eucharist gather to pray and have community near the Baptismal font and make a catechumen community there. If there are non baptized to come to that group or not that group places itself apart as a sign to the greater community that even in the midst of the Eucharist we are not yet fully whole and the kingdom is not fully come.

I am not sure it is the best solution, as far as I can tell this is a situation where all things are messy and mixed. But I have not heard it before and I think it considers being on the table.

1 comment:

  1. Louis Weil has written on this pretty recently, I think, and you might be surprised where he comes down. See if you can find his stuff, then share, cause I can't remember--other than tht he did a workshop on Baptism in DioMA a few years ago.