“I am the Bread of Life.” Jesus (John 6:35)
In a recent hospital visit, one of the healthcare professionals asked me what I liked best about Holy Communion. I looked to the patient to make sure it was o.k. to proceed (actually, to gather my thoughts), and them muttered something about the holy mystery of God. What I said was true. Holy Communion is a great and wonderful mystery. But I was unsatisfied with my response, so I asked for a do over. Take two struck something inside of me that I’ve been wrestling with for some time. I said, “You know, I actually love communion because of the gathering of the people. I love the fact that at the Table, all are equal. People from all walks of life sharing a meal together.”
And it’s true. At Christ’s Table, barriers are broken down. There is no young and old, fat and skinny, rich and poor, smart and less smart. All are welcome, and everyone is equal. At the Table, as God’s children, we are sharing a meal with God’s family.
What if we could offer this same sense of radical hospitality in everything else that we do? At Casting Bread Food Pantry (a ministry of FaithBridge), we have started asking this question. And as a result, we are becoming increasingly aware of the barriers that exist between client/provider and us/them. After a recent visit to the Haywood Street Congregation, we realized that we could be doing more. And if the Table is the ultimate symbol of reconciliation, we figured that would be a good place to start.
So we launched the Bread of Life Service on Wednesdays at noon during the food pantry and soup kitchen hours. No one is required to come, because that would be coercive. But all are invited, and all are welcome. The service will look different from week-to-week, but one thing will remain constant: Holy Communion.
Phyllis Tickle says, “When I help to provide food, I want it to be food shared among us easily and frequently. I’m not out to save the world, just to be a part of it” (Emergence Christianity, 136). And thus sums up the ethos of the Bread of Life service. Everyone is welcome at the table. Everyone.