I Believe in the Open Table, by Mary Katherine Spalding

My story starts here.  I was born and raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  In the Disciples Church, we practice what has become known as the “Open Table.”  In our weekly worship services, the Open Table refers to the communion table where all are welcome to take part in the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist.  Pastor Rob Bell, though not a Disciples minister, describes this practice best stating, “The Eucharist is about setting the table for the whole world.”  In a broader, long-term concept, the Open Table is the invitation for the world to join in community and conversation.

I worked at a church in Waco, Texas.  During communion each week, the senior minister would say, “This table belongs to our Lord, not our church. All are welcome.”  I loved this reminder each week.  When I was growing up I went to a church where you were not allowed to take communion until you had been baptized.  Adults passed the trays and skipped right over the children in the row.  When I was finally baptized on Palm Sunday in 2002, I felt like I had joined an exclusive club.  The following Sunday, Easter Sunday 2002, I sat with the rest of my faith development class as we awaited our turn to walk to the front of the congregation and take our first communion as “true believers.”

As I got older, I began to have frustrations with communion only being offered to those who had been baptized, as though children who confessed through their actions each week that they believed in the love and power of Christ were not welcome to partake in the feast.  Today, I believe people of all faiths and all ages are welcome to the table.  The table isn’t about being a part of a special club or sitting at the grown up table.  The table is about embracing each and every child of God.  The table is about inviting the whole world to feel the love of Christ.

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GA TIB BOOK Mary Katherine SpaldingMary Katherine Spalding is a 2013 graduate of Texas Christian University with a BA in Religion and a minor in Sociology. Currently, she is residing in Northern Germany where she is working as an Au Pair. In her spare time she enjoys reading theology, playing tennis, and singing.

I Believe Little Things Make a Big Difference

Author: Gregory Chambers, TCU Student, Spring 2015

Growing up as a minister’s kid, I often heard the phrase to whom much is given, much is expected.  As with a lot of things that my parents said when I was younger it went in one ear and right back out the other.  Yet as I grew in both size and understanding of the greater working of the world, this simple yet complicated phrase began to become ingrained in me, a part of who I am.

I believe in giving back, I believe in happiness, I believe that the little things make a big impact, I believe that God calls us to do His works here on Earth.  As I reflect on my twenty years on Earth many great memories come flooding back, yet the ones that are the most memorable, and the ones that have had the deepest impact on me, are the ones where I was in the service of others.

One of my most cherished memories occurred when I was helping my father prepare for a Maundy Thursday service.  The night before the youth had done an Easter musical, so my dad and I were not expecting a very high attendance, yet we carefully prepared for whoever came.  As expected only fifteen or so came to the Church to pray and partake in communion, yet one individual stood out from the rest.  An older woman in the congregation came to the service; she sat down in the pew and prayed, then took communion.  As she was leaving she came back to where my dad and I were standing and said “This is the most beautiful service that I have ever been to.”  She then left, as I was standing there it hit me, if we had not prepared diligently even though we were not expecting much we would have never received the greatest gift of all that night.  The fact that we made a difference for just one person was all the satisfaction that we needed.  Just by opening the sanctuary for a time of pray and reflection, we had made a huge impact.

I learned a lesson that night, the lesson is that the little things we do for others in life, often have the biggest impact on our lives.  As I stood their listening to the clock tick in the quiet of the sanctuary I realized that although our time on Earth is short in the grand scheme of things, it is up to us to use that time to make little impacts on the lives of others.  I believe that the little things we do for others have big impacts, and I think back to all the times I heard that simple, yet complicated phrase, to whom much is given much is expected