A few years ago I was doing some research about the eucharist or communion for my own understanding of the different beliefs people have about what happens. The different beliefs lead to a variety of ways of sharing the bread and wine, who is authorised to serve the elements and who is permitted receive them. During my study I read the line that went something like;
‘I’d rather get it wrong by being inclusive than get it wrong by leaving people out.’
For me this was perfect. There are so many unknowns, mysteries, interpretations, understandings and misunderstandings. This is how the church should be. Not full of know-it-all’s with rules about beliefs and behaviours, but consisting of people with the value of inclusion.
I believe in the church there should be always be room at the table for others to join. That might mean moving to a bigger table or, as I’ve experienced at family gatherings, pulling all the mismatched tables and chairs together as best we can so everyone is included. Jesus tells the parable of a man planning a huge banquet (Luke…) and he sends out invites but everyone makes excuses. The man then invites in ‘the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame’ so that his house may be full and the banquet enjoyed. In other words the people who were usually alienated, those who were living with social and financial deprivation, those who were typically ignored or at best tolerated were invited to the table not to serve but to feast.
For the church this means a bigger table for all. A table that includes those who are liberal and conservative, progressive and traditional, those who are searching or doubting as well as those who are certain, those who understand and those who find it all confusing.
To be truly inclusive means that all are welcomed to the table. For those of us who arrived early it means greeting those who arrive later, giving up our seat to allows others a place, introducing those around them and finding clean crockery so they can enjoy the meal.
In case of doubt the inclusive church as a family and as a body includes those who identify as male, female, gender neutral, old, young, abled, disabled, educated, uneducated, single, married, divorced, gay, straight, trans, black, white, asian, liberal, conservative, progressive, traditional, activist, passivist, and whatever other delineations or demographics that compose your identity. The inclusive church welcomes the confident and convicted, the doubters, hopers and dreamers, the lost and confused, as well as the enlightened and informed.
A genuine welcome to the table. A genuine inclusion to the church.
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