Andrew Thompson laments our laxity about Holy Communion. (My mother, an Episcopalian, would agree with his view.)
If I read Thompson correctly, he is saying we need to stop serving to the unbaptized.
Reforming the so-called “open table” will require more effort. The weakness of reasons given for its continued practice don’t seem to dampen the desire for some Methodists to define themselves by what they don’t stand for. But make no mistake: Wesley’s use of the phrase “converting ordinance” to describe the Eucharist did not refer to its use as an evangelization tool for the unbaptized. It was rather meant to refer to the sacrament’s ability to quicken the faith of Christians who were caught in the malaise of sin.
Christ does want all to meet him at his Supper. But that Supper takes place in the church, and the manner of inclusion into it goes by a specific name: Baptism. Recognizing the profound meaning of coming to commune with Christ through the baptismal call would help us understand both sacraments more fully.
At the church I serve, that would mean a significant portion of those attending on a regular basis would no longer be invited to the table, including all of the young people. Of course, congregational strife is a poor reason to continue a bad practice. (Thompson does not comment on the propriety of non-ordained clergy offering the sacraments. That may be a further source of trouble for me.)
What do you think? Is our “open table” theology wrong? Is the Lord’s Supper a meal for the baptized only?