Good Morning Brothers…(It’s been a while)
Okay…much has changed in my life the last couple years that will be reflected in these devotionals. Some of my positions will be understood and I think some of them will not be understood. I’m okay with that, our faith journey’s are all about discerning the voice of God and following that lead. He will lead us all down many different roads, and sometimes those roads may seem questionable to those on a different road, or to those who haven’t decided to begin their journey.
Last Sunday my youngest daughter was coming home from college with her boyfriend. He wanted to meet me. About an hour before they arrived, I received a text from her which said, “Xavier wanted to make sure that you knew he was black.” I responded with this, “Make sure he knows that I am white.” I received back some of those stupid emoji smiley faces so I assumed all was well. Xavier came in and shook my hand, was respectful, and spent the afternoon and evening with us while laundry was washed and dried. We talked sports, he played some video games with my youngest son, we shot a rifle on the range, and then sat down to eat dinner. If I did not let him sit at my table and eat with me, what message does that send?
For the last 9-10 months, I have pastored a small church out near Stafford. The church is actually a bit to the east in the registered ghost town of Zenith. My wife and I really enjoy it and Sunday’s can be a pretty long, but very rewarding day. What I miss, however, is receiving grace through worship while not leading. I miss participating in service but not on the stage. I miss ‘going’ to church. There are not many services during the week (days) available to go to. My evenings can get pretty full of ball games, school stuff, and hunting, so I like to catch a service during the day, during the week. I have started attending a Catholic Mass once a week. I like the Priest that serves there, he was a Chaplin in the Army for many years and we have become friends. We bounce theology and doctrine type stuff off of each other all the time. I get him, and he gets me, but we are still separated. I cannot sit down at their table and receive Holy Communion. I also realize that many different denominations practice a ‘closed’ table as well. There are restrictions, and issues of belief, and past demonstrations of holiness (like baptism) that become very important to letting ‘just anyone’ come to the Lord’s Table and receive the Blessed Sacrament of Communion.
I get it…I can argue every one of the arguments for, and against a ‘closed’ table. But a new thought hit me like an avalanche the other day as I was walking back to my pew after ‘not’ receiving Communion…”Why has the Church taken on the role of protecting people from God?”
Think about this for a minute, all of our restrictions on the ‘table’ boil down to a place of “protection”. Every doctrinal argument can be reduced to the common denominator of “protection”. In other words, the Church has taken on the role of protecting people from God. What…? I even hear that garbage in our evangelistic techniques for missions, “Accept Jesus so you won’t go to hell”…or…”Accept Jesus so you will be protected from God’s judgement.” Listen, the Church should be in the business of protecting people from evil, not protecting people from God. The protection against evil is God…why are we limiting the amount of God people can receive?? That seems so counterproductive to the role of the Church. The Church doesn’t keep God on a leash. When people come in intimate contact with an awesome and almighty God…they are undone. Their will changes, their heart changes, they become transformed by the renewing of their mind and become more like Jesus. WE SHOULD NOT LIMIT THIS LIFE CHANGING ENCOUNTER BY LIMITING ACCESS TO GOD
Jesus died on a real cross, was buried in a real tomb, and descended into a real hell, for ‘everybody’…His table, which calls on us to celebrate His death until He returns again, should be open to ‘everybody’. The incarnation of God in Jesus, made saving grace available to ‘everybody’. The extended hands of Jesus, one to the east, one to the west, is an eternal sign of “Welcome…all who are weary, find your rest”…not a sense of unwelcome, or unworthy. Please, for the love of God, lets stop protecting people from God. Let God be God…