A few weeks ago my husband John had to restrain me from totally losing it and making a scene at a wedding. I was FURIOUS. Fist-clenching, face-scrunching, steam coming out my ears furious.
“Why?”, you ask. “What could possibly provoke near violence at a wedding?”
The bride was Catholic. The groom Protestant. Can you see where I’m going now?
When it came time for communion, only the Catholics were allowed to be served. Not even the groom got a tiny of taste. It felt like grace withheld from those who were hungry for it.
I have friends and family members who have a vibrant faith who are Catholic. I respect the Catholic expression of faith, but this??
I. Can’t. Even.
Yes! I know the difference between Transubstantiation and the Protestant view of the bread and wine as symbols of Christ’s body and blood. I don’t CARE! It’s just wrong!
Jesus was about drawing all people to Himself. He was about invitation and making room at the table for all the broken who wanted reminders that through Him we are made whole.
As I was sitting in the back row of the church, letting the favored folks who were allowed communion scoot across me, I thought that God is a God of everyone and no one.
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:9
“Everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:10
“Everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” John 13:15
We climbed to the top of a steep hill where there was a monastery. Inside communion was being celebrated. Because the service had started we couldn’t go in, but when it was over the bells in the tower above us started chiming incessantly and the priests came out with the leftover bread.
They graciously handed out all the leftovers to EVERYONE and I believe it brought Jesus great joy. That’s the picture of communion I carry with me.
But angry self-righteousville is a dangerous place to stay. You know…pride before a fall, and plank in your own eye and all that jazz…
As I think back on my wedding experience I wonder, “What am I withholding that Jesus would offer?”
Am I withholding forgiveness from someone who’s wronged me?
Am I withholding acceptance?
Am I withholding resources?
Am I withholding a place in my community?
What about you?
Years ago a friend of mine was in line to receive communion and the person in front of her, when she got to the bread, started stacking piece upon piece in her hands. My friend thought, “But, but, but…that’s against the ‘rules’! You’re only supposed to take ONE piece of bread!”
Maybe she realized her desperate need for grace. One piece just did not seem like enough. Grace upon grace. Grace without limitation. For everyone who realizes they are in need.