“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’” – Matthew 26:26 (NRSVUE)
One Sunday in worship, the head usher rushed over to me during a hymn, leaned in close, and whispered, “We don’t have anyone to serve communion.”
Communion servers were part of this church’s complicated but effective system known as The Grid, ensuring all volunteer roles were fulfilled each week. Rare is a Sunday without someone at their assigned station, but apparently that day this critical task was omitted from the spreadsheet.
As communion began, I fessed up to the error and asked if anyone was willing to join me at the table. A surplus of volunteers eagerly came forward. I was surprised that they were three newer members and an elementary aged kiddo, none of whom were in The Grid. With one open invitation, we went from a scarcity of servers to an abundance of willing servants.
As the congregation came forward to eat and drink, I watched as each server’s face glowed with pride every time they offered a blessing to the same church members that had so recently welcomed them in and affirmed God’s love for them. In that moment, I realized that our promise of a communion table open to all was half fulfilled. Our desire for preparedness and order created a barrier to those most eager to serve. The danger in feeding those who long to know Christ is that they may become inspired to feed others in return.
Thus began a new Spirit-led practice of inviting whoever felt called to serve to come to the table, no spreadsheet necessary. After all, who are we to stand in Love’s way?
Prepare us for the abundance that follows whenever extravagant hospitality is practiced.
Liz Miller serves as the Designated Pastor of Granby Congregational Church, UCC and is the author of Only Work Sundays: A Laidback Guide to Doing Less while Helping Your Church Thrive.