Please enjoy the beautiful perspective that Rev. Mary Luti offers on Communion (see below). May it guide you as you walk to the Lord’s Table this week!
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain and sat down; his disciples came to him. ? Then he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the majesty of the heavens.
4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9"Blessed are those who work for peace, for they will be called children, daughters and sons, of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their struggle for justice,
the kindom of heaven is theirs.
Guests Among Guests
by Mary Luti
“Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his booth. ‘Follow me,’ he said. Levi got up and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house...”—Luke 5:27-29 (NIV)
I find only three instances in scripture when Jesus hosts a meal—the improvised feeding of the multitudes, the members-only Last Supper, and the post-resurrection breakfast for a handful of frustrated fishermen.
Other than that, Jesus doesn’t host anyone at his table. He doesn’t have a table. He’s always at someone else’s. Tax collectors like Levi and Zacchaeus throw him banquets. Pharisees, too. Peter’s wife feeds him. And Martha, in Bethany. Jesus doesn’t invite: he gets invited.
So when we say we welcome everyone to the church’s table because Jesus welcomed everyone to his, we’re on shaky evidentiary ground. Which doesn’t argue for exclusion. It only suggests that Jesus may present a challenge to us not so much because he was a gracious host, but because he was a willing guest.
If our churches aren’t very inclusive, it might be because too many of us have mistaken ourselves for the Giver of the Feast. We’re not hosts extending invitations. We’re guests among guests. Yet we behave as if having arrived earlier than others has given us proprietary rights over the hall. Which means we haven’t yet pondered deeply enough the Mercy by which we all got in here in the first place.
Our churches will more closely resemble God’s all-embracing realm when we relinquish our sense of entitlement to them, cease welcoming others as if there’s no such a thing as others, stop playing munificent hosts, and learn to be good guests.
Christ of food and every pleasure, you have longed to eat this feast! Now we’re gathered here together, high and mighty, low and least, to receive your joy unmeasured and to make your joy complete.
No one owns this great partaking, no one’s higher than the rest; every privilege here forsaking, even you, O Christ, a guest: all are one in Love’s inbreaking at this table manifest. . In this circle of God’s dreaming boundless welcome comes to earth. Free of coveting and scheming, free of worried rank and worth, guests alike here, glad and gleaming, eat and drink to our rebirth.
The Church Has Bread
“The disciples said, ‘Send the crowds away, so they can go buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’” – Matthew 14:13-16
It used to be that if you didn’t understand it, weren’t baptized, didn’t believe correctly, or weren’t morally pure, you were barred from Communion. It was called “fencing the table.” Everybody did it.
But these days some churches are unfencing. Completely. They say Jesus never turned anyone away from his table, so neither should we.
Never mind that Jesus was always a guest with no table of his own to welcome anyone to. Or that early on, the church began emphatically excluding notorious sinners, the unbaptized, and heretics. Or that the church has consistently taught that Communion is for members. Only.
We’re opening our tables anyway, even ‘though we’ve never done it this way before. And now many people once ruled out are coming. Little kids, unbaptized adults, intellectually disabled people, the weary, the sin-sick, the doubting, the curious—they’re all coming.
Because they want it, this gift they can’t explain, don’t believe in correctly, or were told they don’t deserve. They want it, this company for their loneliness, this healing for their estrangement, this home for their wandering, this approval for their very beings. This pardon. This love. This memory. This meeting. This mercy. This food.
Above all, this food. For a bottomless hunger.
And the church that’s always needed to have all its theological ducks in a row before budging an inch; the church that’s always gone to the wall for its beliefs and put others up against the wall for theirs; this obtuse yet still teachable church is finally starting to obey Jesus: “You give them something to eat.”
There is so much hunger.
The church has bread.
You don’t have to be perfect You don’t have to be pure You don’t have to be righteous You don’t have to be sure You just need to be hungry You just need to be fed You just need heaven’s manna You need to need the Bread
So Jesus says, Come eat here, whoever you may be His bread is for the taking for you, and even me No questions will be asked here no test will be applied The only thing you need is a need to satisfy
You don’t have to give answers You don’t have to impress You don’t have to be certain You don’t have to confess You just need to be thirsty You just need filling up You just need heaven’s fountain You need to need the Cup
So Jesus says, Come drink here, whoever you may be His cup is for the taking for you, and even me No questions will be asked here no test will be applied The only thing you need is a need to satisfy
Children and Youth Ministry Update
from Nordia Bennett, Children’s Minister
Hi Park Family,
This Sunday, the 10:00 am (4th grade or older) youth will explore “The Narrow Door”, Luke 13:22-30 in the “Who Can We Be Together? A Biblical Exploration of Luke 13”. The 10:30 am (3rd grade or younger) children will consider the relationships in “David is Chosen” in the Sparks Story Bible: Spark a Journey through God’s Word.
From Bonnie English and Coalition for the Homeless, Inc.:
The start of the new school year is just around the corner, and we still need your help providing homeless children with the essential supplies they need to succeed!
Just $20 will allow us to provide one child with a brand-new backpack filled with essential supplies, including notebooks, folders, markers, calculators, and more.