Why should table fellowship among Christians be important?
In the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prays to the Father for a unified body of believers. As Christians, we should be lamenting the fact that there is such disunity among Christians. I’m a firm believer that if we can’t be a unified body as our Lord and Savior prayed, we can be a unified body spiritually. We can do this if we recognize that a Mystical Body of Christ does exist. Think about how this disunity has historically pierced Christs body over and over again. Let’s pray to the Holy Spirit for guidence. We should all look for ways to accomplish unity of all Christians in our life time. There is no time to lose.
The High Priestly Prayer
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23 (ESV)
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:6-9, (ESV).
Many scenes in the Gospels occur at the table. But the one’s we are all most familiar with are the scenes of the Last Supper and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
We all recognize that the Bridegroom is Jesus and that the Bride is his most Holy Church. The Church is anyone of us who come together and say, “Jesus is Lord.” It’s beyond the scope of this blog post to debate whether the underlying meaning of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb has tribulation implications associated with it or not. My purpose is to show how all Christians, no matter what your Church affilation or denomination is, can participate in Christian Love and Unity during Table Fellowship. Whether we call it Holy Communion, The Litergy of the Eucharist, The Divine Litergy, or The Breaking of the Bread, we are all invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Here is a quick overview of Holy Communion among Churches and Denomination
Dr. Timothy George, Dean of the Beeson Divinity School, stated at the 2014 ETS Conference: “The Christian Unity for which Jesus prayed, (John 17:6-19), we will find in the embodiment of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.” In this talk, Dr, George asks, as St. Paul asked: “Is Christ Divided,” (1 Corrinthians 1:13) and states that this phase can every well mean: “Is Christ Partisan. Is Christ Securitarian. The answer is: God forbide.”
Christian Table Fellowship is a major step toward that Christian Unity, our Savior prayed for. Dr. George continues: “There are some things we can’t do together. We can’t come to the table together and we shouldn’t say that lightly. We aught to be deeply pained, because that’s true. But we can’t do that.” “…..because we are not at the level of church communion that I wish we were and I hope we will be.” It is so very true that Christians have not reached the point of Table Fellowship and in fact we are far from that.
At the website, First Things, July, 14, 2013, I direct your attention to an article that Dr. George published, pointing out 10-things all Christians can do together, outlined by his friend and colleague, Cardinal Avery Dulles; now deceased.
The question I ask, is how are we, as divided Christians, to attain Table Fellowship? We can all come together to worship and praise our Triune God, each in communion with one another spiritually, as a community of faith, entering into that mystical body of Christ.
Here I believe can be an outline on how Table Fellowship can occur when Christians, with different traditions, come together in each others churches. Every Christians belief’s should always be respected and cherished by every member of the community of the faithful. We can do that spiritually when we come together at the Table. It will not be easy as we all come together from many different backgrounds and traditions. But, always keep in mind the prayer of unity that our Lord and Savior prayed. Nothing in the 4 Gospels are there by accident or coincidence. Every single word, sentence, parable in Spricture has echoing in it the Holy Spirit inspired word of God. Let us listen and let us act.
Thoughts on Table Fellowship
John Calvin says this about the meal we eat, “…the flesh of Christ is eaten by believing because it is made ours by faith…” So in faith, those Christians who follow John Calvin do participate in this mystery. Others such as, and I can only assume, Methodists believe that the change is spiritual and they signify the body and blood of Christ. They also “pray over the bread and cup that they may make them one with Christ, ‘one with each other, and one in service to all the world.‘” Baptists and others believe that Holy Communion is symbolic and yet important, calling them Ordinances. For Baptists and I assume for other denominations as well, they are symbols of his body and blood. In eating the bread and drinking from the cup, a person does not actually partake of Christ’s flesh and blood. Rather, it is an opportunity to obey a command of Christ and to recall his sacrifice for us, his presence with us and his certain return. Each of these belief’s are found in the New Testament and we all need to celebrate, alongside these traditions.
No matter which Church a Christian goes to, if they declare to follow the path of Christian Unity, they can go to other Churches and participate in Table Fellowship; this done in the Spirit of Unity. I’m not suggesting that any Protestant brother or sister, get up and receive the Holy Eucharist in a Catholic or Orthodox Church. But they can, during the time that other members of Christs Holy Church are receiving, can, in Spirit, celebrate in the Spirit of Unity, that others too are called to receive Christ, yet not as I do.
Can a Protestant, who does not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, sit at the same table with their Christian Brethren at a Catholic or Orthodox Mass? The answer is yes. When they are at a Catholic or Orthodox Church, they can also celebrate, in Christian Love, that others are called to receive Christ, yet not as I do. I’m not suggesting that our Protestant Brother or Sister, in Christ, get up and receive the Eurcharist. But they can, in Faith, participate in that Eucharistic meal as a celebration of our call to Unity.
Likewise, a Catholic or Antiochian Christian can attend and celebrate communion in a Protestant Church, with a Protestant Congregation and also worship, praise and sing hymns. When Holy Communion is offered, they can also offer, in Faith, Gods divine blessings on those that are partaking of this wafer or cracker. All done in Christian Love and the Hope of Christian Unity.
In the Roman Catholic Church, which is one of 22 churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome, only those who believe in Transubstationation are allowed to do so. If a Christian, not in communion with the Church of Rome, attends a mass, he or she can give praise, worship and sing hymns during those who get up to receive the Eucharist. Those Protestants can decline this Eucharist because they receive, or partake of Christ’s divine essence through faith. Protestants can even pray a blessing unto their Catholic Christian brothers and sisters during this time. Remember, where the heart is that is where your treasure is.
We can all celebrate at the same table and although all are hungry for Table Fellowship, we can, In the Spirit, celebrate each others Love of God and Love of the Divine Sonship bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior. We can think or meditate about Christ’s atonement and the covenant he has established with us during the time others have gotten out of their seats to receive this Communion. They can do this without accepting what those who profess to be the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
We can be absolutely sure that Gods presences will be in our midst. Some came for a meal and all of us coming together to worship and glorify our Lord.
One day we will all be at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb when full participation in Table Fellowship will be the reality.
I welcome any insight on this post as I am still working through Table Fellowship.