This is Part One of Five in Series about the Christian Church (DOC). I have been a Disciples since my birth and I find that five major tenets or pillars that the DOC professes are some of the reason why I am ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) today.
Below is a summation (albeit brief) of what I believe and feel about the practice of open communion.
How do you as ministers or fellow followers of Christ handle the question “What does your church believe?”
Last week I introduced this series. We will be looking at the five major tenets of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This week we will start with open communion.
Communion is at the heart of our worship time together. We partake of it every time we get together. It is a reminder of the last night that Jesus with his disciples and according to the scriptures instituted this ordinance. The Preamble of the Design of the Christian Church (DOC) states “At the Table of the Lord we celebrate with thanksgiving the saving acts and presence of Christ”
But for centuries the communion has been at the center of heated church debates: who could receive it? How are we to partake it? Do we use actual wine? Do you serve communion before or after the sermon, do you take the offering before or after communion? Is the bread a symbol or the actual body and blood of Christ? And on and on and on.
In the Christian Church (DOC), we do not have a formal doctrine per se of communion, but we do have some guidelines. One thing that sets us apart from most other denominations is our practice to have an open table. An open table means that the invitation is given to all people, no matter their race, creed, church membership or affiliation. Christ invites all to the table to commune with him and with God. There are no qualifiers to partake, there are some special hoops to jump through, just an open invitation by Christ himself.
In Disciples churches around the world the practice of communion is one that is done is a myriad of ways. Some congregations pass trays with little cups and little pieces of bread, each one are serving another. Some partake communion by intinction, where members come to a common loaf and a common cup to dip the broken bread in to the chalice. This symbolizes that we are all from the same family of faith and that we all welcome at the table of the Lord. No one way is right and the other way is wrong, rather they are both meaningful expressions of the beautiful ordinance of the church. It does not matter how you partake, rather that if you are so moved that you have the option to partake.
Michael Kinnamon wrote a book entitled, “The People Obsessed With Bread.” This is a good description of the Christian Church (DOC). Communion reminds us of the ever-presence of God and thorough simple elements we are transported back to the night in which Jesus was betrayed. So why not remember that every time we get together? Sure doing communion every Sunday can become a bit mundane and routine, but we are called to remember Christ’s death and each time we take the bread and cup we wait expectantly until Christ comes again, to restore the world back to the very good place it was intended to be.