Words from the Open Table

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Our minister of music will be finishing his seminary education this summer. He has been working online at Duke Divinity School – you may not have realized that Duke was a United Methodist institution! Tim’s goal is to seek ordination as a Deacon within our denomination which is the same order in which Rev. Don Vaught is a part. Other deacons related to our congregation include Kathy Coit, Beverly Powell and Marilyn Williams. A Deacon’s work is to connect the church to the world – usually in a specialized sense. Tim’s is through the ministry of music. Deacons do not itinerate like Elders do and while they are appointed by the bishop to a local setting like a church or a hospital, they seek to find their own employment.

A part of Tim’s review process as he seeks to be ordained is to preach, record and present a sermon to the Board of Ordained Ministry for the Oklahoma Conference. This Sunday, Tim will be preaching on the text of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. This passage was one of several assigned to him as a possibility to interpret by the Board of Ordained Ministry. It deals with the sacrament of Holy Communion and the title of Tim’s sermon is “Am I Worthy?”

The sacrament of Holy Communion is not entirely understood. Our United Methodist document about this sacrament is entitled, “This Holy Mystery” so that tells us that it is not so black and white. While many churches don’t allow you to receive the Lord’s Supper unless you are a member of that church, we celebrate the open table which allows anyone to partake. One of the criticisms of this action by other denominations is that if someone receives it in an unworthy manner (as mentioned in the Corinthian passage for Sunday), they may unintentionally bring judgment upon themselves. This doesn’t sound like something we would want to risk, does it?

However, Paul’s message to the church at Corinth is pretty specific on their violations. It is doubtful that we would get drunk (especially since we use grape juice which they didn’t have available) or allow others to go hungry (our meal is more ritualistic than theirs). Our own sense of whether we deserve to receive or not may be more to the point of our concern. What does it mean to be given the meal regardless of our worthiness?

I hope you’ll join us for worship on Sunday morning. We’ll also be online if you can’t be there in person!

In Christ,

Sam

Follow Sam’s Blog at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com.