“Jesus should Taste Good”
At a recent Sunday worship, I handed out pieces of paper and writing utensils before the offering. I told folks that we are so used to giving our offerings, yet, are we are not used to giving our questions to God. We are allowed to ask questions of God and the church. I want us, the faith community that is Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ, to get in the habit of not only bringing our offerings of money, time and talent to the church, but also our questions. We are a community of faith robust enough to handle the questions and differing opinions.
Some of the questions offered up were questions that I, as the pastor, could answer. So I created this column for those questions that I feel I can answer and or at least give some insight on the matter. Please feel free to comment and or email more questions to BridgeofGraceUCC@gmail.com.
What is the church’s, Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ, belief about communion?
Bread, manna, is important to the Christian story. It is talked about throughout the Bible. It is life, it is sustenance. It is central to our celebration of communion.
Communion is one of two sacraments celebrated by the United Church of Christ. Sacraments are “ritual actions in worship which, according to Scripture, were instituted by Jesus. In the sacraments of baptism and communion we ask the Holy Spirit to use water, bread and wine (grape juice) to make visible the grace, forgiveness, and presence of God in Christ.” (From Practices of Faith in the United Church of Christ) God’s endless grace is in and through this common meal.
We celebrate communion every Sunday. It is an important part of the evolving story of Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ. One of the scriptures that I, we, relied on early on in our founding was Acts 1 and 2 for inspiration. The apostles were lost and uncertain where to go and what to do. They came together in those moments; new converts broke bread together. The breaking of bread reminded them and us of Jesus and his fellowship with his disciples. Communing brings us together for a visible interaction with God. Our celebration of communion is:
- An act of thanksgiving for all God has done in our lives
- For the remembrance of Jesus the Christ who died for our sins
- An opportunity to feel the presence of God through prayer and the partaking of the meal
- An opportunity to share a meal with this community of faith
- A hopeful sign of God’s kingdom on earth marked by justice love and peace.
It is also in this visible sign of God’s grace that we also choose to welcome all. God’s grace welcomes all who chose to come to the table. Period. We do not put expectations or requirements on anyone in order for them to come to the table. We do not judge those who come to the table or those who do not. It is between the individual and God. Children are welcome as well. God is bigger than we can imagine, we should not limit the boundaries of God’s grace.
We also welcome all by choosing to prepare gluten free bread. In this day and age, there are many individuals who are unable to consume gluten, a part of most bread. Instead of having a small station off to the side for those with gluten allergies, we choose to include them at the table without exception. We all partake of the same loaf. In addition, we choose to use grape juice instead of wine to welcome all, including those with addiction to alcohol. Bridges of Grace United Church of Christ is committed to Jesus’ radical inclusion of all people, no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
You may be wondering why I used the phrase, “Jesus should taste good” to title this particular question. I recently had a discussion with a colleague about the use of gluten free bread for communion. Her response to me was her church would not use gluten free bread because, “Jesus should taste good.” Well, that conversation has bugged me for so many reasons I will not go into all of them. However, I will say, our gluten free communion bread does coincidentally taste good, very good. And I think Jesus would tell us to include instead of exclude. The taste of the bread is nowhere near as important as God’s grace extended to all!
I pray this answers the question!