REFLECTIONS FROM PASTOR AMY JO
Taking it To the Streets
One of the things that set John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) apart from other clergy of his day was his habit of preaching to crowds outside, where everyone could hear the gospel message. Our historical culture as Methodists is one of “taking it to the streets” to share God’s love with everyone. One of the ways that this still shines through is in the practice of an open communion table. Whenever we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we invite all people to come and participate in the Holy Meal. It doesn’t matter whether they are members of our church (or of any church, for that matter!), it only matters that they come to the table out of a sincere desire to live in reconciled relationship with God and with their neighbor. We give this radically inclusive invitation to everyone who gathers with us to worship. But, in typical Methodist fashion, our communion table is also extended beyond the walls of the church to those who are unable to join us.
Most often the Communion table is extended to those who are homebound, hospitalized, or in prison. But, it can be extended in other ways, too. I will share one memorable experience with you from a different setting. One year, when the local parade fell on a Sunday morning the congregation where I was appointed decided to have a float in the parade and to have our worship service at the line-up area of the float prior to the parade. We sang, prayed, and blessed the bread (scones that morning) and cup together. The float had a PA system, so we used it to be heard over the noise of the street. As we started to serve Communion, people setting up the neighboring floats heard us and started calling out “Are Presbyterians welcome? How about Catholics?, etc.” The answer was a definitive and friendly “Yes!” And so there we were, extending the table, sharing God’s Table with many more of God’s children than we had expected. It was a special, impromptu, ecumenical celebration of our shared love of Christ. It was a joy to be part of that day!
When I became a pastor, my District Superintendent gave me a travel Communion set as a “welcome-to-the-team” gift. It is just the right size to neatly hold a tiny vial of grape juice, tiny-silvery plate, three pieces of bread, and a few disposable Communion cups. I am still using it all the time. God calls all of us to share the love of God with those around us—sometimes by extending the table, sometimes by praying with and for our friends/family, sometimes by offering a word of encouragement when someone needs it, and many other ways. May we be vessels of God’s love at all times and in all places.
Pastor Amy Jo