Rev. Steven R. Giddens
No Matter Whom...
Holy Communion has been a binding and centered theme in my own faith journey. Every time I have come back to the table or have been nourished by the Lord I have truly felt welcomed and "home". Being one of the two recognized sacramental rites of the UCC I felt it required a little more detailed explanation on my part. In my youth, I bounced around a lot and participated in many church services. The Catholic Church would not let me partake of Communion, nor would the Lutheran church but the others did. I found that Communion changed from church to church, denomination to denomination, and as I grew older from Pastor to Pastor. Regardless of where I was or what church I was in, I knew that I could eventually count on Communion. During my time in the Army this became a moment of comfort and of real contemplative reflection; EVERY SINGLE TIME I took Communion in the Army I wept. I was so moved with compassion that my tears flowed like a river as I ate the bread and drank the cup. As I imagine many in seminary feel the very first time we get to participate in providing Communion, I felt unworthy and was afraid I would screw it up.
I appreciate the diversity and complexity that is the history of UCC mergers and unions with other traditions. In this way, I see the living witness of ancient traditions and practices coming to light in various ways. I have seen and participated in everything from a very laid back and relaxed Communion service to a very High Church Communion. I believe that Communion is a way for the faithful followers of Christ to participate in the perpetual memory of both the sacrifice of our Lord and the meaning behind it. To me, it is spiritual food and a way for us to be fed and nourished by our church and our church community. There is a very UCC song, “No Matter” that sums up my feelings on both welcoming people into the church as well as welcoming them to Christ’s table. Even our UCC Statement of Faith says, “You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.” To me, I interpret this as welcoming all beings to participate in Communion, as they are willing and able without any prerequisites, tests, or conditions. I see Communion as being an open table, open to all who are hungry for spiritual food and we should feed them.