There’s Always More Room at the Table

Have you ever felt like you didn’t make the social cut? Been left out? Excluded? It hurts! The church is supposed to be a place where all are equally wanted and welcomed, where what unites us far outweighs what separates us. The church is supposed to be the place where hierarchies dissolve, where social classes and distinctions disappear, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female because all are one in Christ.

And the table of the Lord is supposed to symbolize all of this—a big, open, welcoming table where there is always room. But the church doesn’t always get this right. It never has, as is evidenced by the issues Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 11. For the first couple of centuries, the Lord’s Supper was a part of an actual supper. The Agape Feast (Love Feast) was a time of celebration, of remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and often a time to provide a meal to those in the church who were poor.

Yet in Corinth, the meal remembering the body of Christ was dividing the body of Christ (the church). The rich ate the Agape Feast how Romans ate other meals, with the wealthy in one room feasting and drinking on the best while the rest got little or nothing at all (“…one person remains hungry and another gets drunk” 1 Cor. 11:21).

This is what Paul has in mind when he warns against partaking of the bread and wine in an “unworthy manner” (1 Cor. 11:27). An unworthy manner is when we share the sacred meal of the one who welcomes all in a way that segregates and discriminates. An unworthy manner is any approach that leaves us full on the blessings of God without ever being concerned about the spiritual and physical hunger around us.

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