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DYK? An Invitation for All

Posted: May 26 2023 at 09:45 PM
Author: Arlene Christopherson


During the month of May I had the honor of attending my great-niece’s first communion. Molly was beaming in her white dress, shiny shoes and delicate veil. Molly is a seven-year-old, excited about a sacrament of the church. Like her mother before her, whose first communion I also attended, Molly was filled with joy and honor, solemnity and understanding.

While first communion is not a practice of Protestant churches, it is a marker of growing faith for those who areRoman Catholic. As I sat in the pew of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity on the north side of Chicago, I was surrounded by young families, squirming babies, and proud parents and grandparents, all drawn together by this act of faith and acknowledgment of God’s presence in our life and world.

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The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper unites us beyond denominational lines and draws us back into the basics of Jesus’s teaching and witness as he fulfilled God’s promise of salvation for all of creation. In her classes, Molly learned about the power of forgiveness. She dug into the Bible and read the stories of Jesus’s breaking bread with sinners and saints. In the celebration of her first communion, she and our family created memories centered around Christ and grounded in faith.

This year as we gather for Annual Conference, living out our theme “Connected in Christ: Come to the Table,” we come from an era of challenge and change. Our hearts are heavy as the body is broken by the experience of a pandemic. Barely on the other side of this global event, we are just beginning to understand its effect on our health, spirit, and psyche. Our patterns of worship and the place of faith in our lives were slowly changing before this global crisis, but the fallout of the pandemic has altered our religious world in ways we are just beginning to understand.

We gather with heavy hearts to face the loss of churches through disaffiliation. We’ve always known that not everyone wants to be United Methodist. We are surrounded by Roman Catholics, other Protestant denominations, and many branches of Wesleyan faith. As I sat in the pew of a Roman Catholic Church, I saw that there were many similarities in the liturgy, music, and word. We find our grounding in the same scriptures and witness of Christ. People come and go from one religion or denomination as they feel led, but in this season, for the first time in our history, the United Methodist Church has created a path for entire congregations to move away from our heritage. This is an era of challenge and change.

I was blessed to be part of Molly’s first communion service. I’m grateful that we can step into one another’s faith traditions and be greeted with hospitality. May we all find room in our hearts and our world to welcome others to Christ table in gratitude for God’s love poured out on us. We are connected in Christ. Let us come to the table.

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