When I was in seminary, every student was required to go on a cross-cultural immersion trip. The purpose of the trip was to send pastors-to-be to faraway places, so they could gain a broader view of the world. And so they could know how it feels to depend on the hospitality of strangers. As I was getting ready to leave for my cross-cultural trip to El Salvador, I expected to feel unwelcome in some of the places we would go. But to my surprise, most of the people we met were warm and welcoming, and made us feel right at home–with the exception of the local church. As our trip guide prepared us to go to worship on Sunday morning, he informed us that the church was not United Methodist, so we would not be allowed to take Communion. I was shocked by that announcement. By that point in my life, I had already been blessing and serving Communion in two small churches for three years. The idea that I was not welcome at Christ’s table was inhospitable–and offensive to me.
That feeling of being rejected at Christ’s table has stayed with me through the years. So this coming January, we are going to meet Jesus at His table. We will study stories of how Christ opened meals in the Gospel of Luke. And we will consider what it means for the church to be a place where every person belongs, while we gather at The Open Table.