All Saints is a congregation of people who extend a gracious welcome to the Lord’s Table. I’ve seen individual All Saints people literally insist that a guest come receive bread and wine. And this is in addition to the widely shared expectation that even the littlest get to come and eat.
The core value, as I’ve seen it expressed in how All Saints people act, seems to be: if you eat solid food, the body and blood of Jesus is for you.
Last month, I heard Bishop Burk speak on this topic. Sharing what is distinctly Lutheran about this, he hoped to start a conversation more than give “the right answer.”
This, plus All Saints’ practice, inspired me to rewrite the invitation to communion printed in the bulletin. Maybe you noticed it on Easter Sunday:
This meal is Jesus, for you. All Saints rejoices to give bread and wine to all who come. This includes people of all ages and abilities; any faith (or non-faith) background; people who believe, want to believe, or don’t know what to believe. If you have not been baptized, come and eat! Then talk to Pastor Clark: he’d love to wonder with you whether God is calling you to the living water. (Probably definitely.) But don’t say we didn’t warn you: eating unites you with the body of Christ and is your physical promise to change your life and love as Jesus loves, including your enemies.
I have three goals:
- To invite guests in worship to both communion and baptism, with grace, humor, and deeper insight.
- To offer All Saints people language to speak these invitations to others.
- To start a conversation at All Saints about how as a congregation we’re going to invite.
This whole congregation stewards the gifts of God: this is not up to me alone.
So I’d like to know: What do you do when there are guests in worship? How do you invite others to the Table? What would you add or change in invitation in the bulletin? Reply to this email or bend my ear in person. I’m curious.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Clark Olson-Smith