Friday, April 27, 2012
Putting the "Union" Back in Communion
I need to begin this blog by saying right up front, "I don't know what it is like to have a hierarchy tell me what I can/should/must do in my church as a pastor." I say that so that you won't think I am pretending to know what it is like to minister as a Catholic priest, receiving directives from on high that my own personal understanding of The Way may or may not agree with.
I have noticed a troubling trend in recent years surrounding communion. I'm only 35, so it may not even be that recent, but in my memory, in the last decade or so, it has become more and more common for local parishes to refuse communion to politicians who were not Pro-Life (or anti-abortion) enough. The thinking being that abortion is a sin, and therefore a politician that isn't sufficiently opposed to that sin must answer for the sin as well, which would put them out of Grace, as best I understand Catholic theology.
Then, last week I read this. In case you don't feel like clicking the link, the story goes like this: A woman's mother died. She and her family are Catholic, and so obviously the service was held in her local parish and performed by the local priest. When it came time to take communion, the priest refused to serve the woman. Why? Because she is a lesbian. Apparently her sin is so great in the mind of this local Catholic priest, she doesn't even deserve communion at her own mother's funeral. He refused her publicly, with a rebuke of her lifestyle. At her mother's funeral.
Now, before I get to my thought on this, I should say, this isn't an attack on the Catholic church. In fact, the Bishop who is over this local priest has already apologized. I want to be clear, this kind of thinking is pervasive in many churches, it just so happens that Communion plays a larger role in the theology of the Catholic Church, and so it makes it an even bigger refusal.
Now, here is my one and only thought when I heard this story: Jesus didn't even refuse Judas. Jesus sat at the table, establishing the meal that we call Communion, Lord's Supper, Eucharist, knowing full well that He had been betrayed. You would think that if ever there was a sin so grievous to deserve a refusal of fellowship with Christ, it would be the sin of betrayal. Yet there they sat, Judas and Jesus, hands dipping in the same bowl - and Jesus never says, "I'm sorry Judas, you are a sinner and so you can't participate in this meal. You aren't worthy to fellowship with us here."
Jesus didn't even refuse Judas.
Think about that next time you think there are people who don't deserve to eat at your table.
Jason Blanton is the pastor of Grace Crossing in Charlotte . This article originally appeared on his blog, http://jasonblanton.blogspot.com/.