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.