The Villager Voice

(The General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, The Rev. John Dorhauer, wrote this earlier in the week.  I share it with you because it articulates the UCC’s theology of the sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, clearly and forcefully.)

I wrote something in my ordination paper I expected to get push back on. Not because I thought I was wrong; but because I knew from experience that there were many in the church who see this differently.
I can tell you that what I wrote came after an eight year journey in the Catholic seminary; and the claiming of this theological fundament became a line in the sand for them. I would either bend on this, or I would leave the seminary.
I left.
I was not going to negotiate this with any authorizing body after that. I disclosed it in my ordination paper. If they ordained me, it would be with the full understanding that I was speaking not to debate this point, but to defend it. I would practice my ministry with this foundational understanding.
And what was that?
The communion table was open to all.
I remember the dialogue with the ordination committee.
They began: "Surely you don't mean children, do you?"
I said I did. I meant all: children and Muslims, believers and atheists, sinners and saints.
I asked them this: "If Jesus were walking down the street today, to whom would he refuse to offer himself?"
There was silence.
I continued: "Then how can I stand at a table claiming to have among us the presence of the risen Christ and refuse to offer that to anyone willing to come forward?"
The silence that followed reflected both their discomfort with that and their quiet pondering of it.
All of this is to say it is with great pain that I read about the Catholic Bishop's contemplation of a policy that would empower any authorized minister to stand at a table where Christ is present and then be authorized to determine who deserves Christ’s presence and who does not.
I could not practice ministry or administer the sacraments that way.
It saddens me deeply, and quite painfully, to think that any part of the body of Christ could.
Please know that in the expression of Christianity practiced by so many, including but far from limited to the United Church of Christ, the love we share in the sacraments is offered freely to all.
I cannot imagine, understand, or defend the desire to do otherwise.

* * *
The links to this week’s service and bulletin may be found here:
Link to service
Sunday June 27, 2021 Bulletin




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