Our Open Table

God's Gifts are...FREE!

Communion at St. Mark's follows the practice and principles of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  We like to sum it up with these simple words:  All are welcome.   In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the God of the universe has come near to a world that is broken and hurting.  In this simple meal of bread and wine, our Lord has promised to be truly present among us and within us. This real presence is a mystery but through faith, it nourishes us with the promise of forgiveness of sins, LIFE, and salvation.  And this grace is freely given to all who come with open hands to the table of the Lord for the very act of reaching out is an act of faith which receives the gift God offers. 

The invitation we often use at the Lord's Table goes like this:  "Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, on this we all agree, God's grace is always present and God's gifts are always Free!"   This means all are welcome to receive the sacrament regardless of age or church affiliation.  Across the ELCA, the age of first communion varies since there is no command from our Lord regarding this but we do know that Jesus ate with people of all kinds of backgrounds and ages and abilities.  He especially welcomed the poor, the outcast, those deemed to be "sinners", and the children others wanted to send away.  So we strive to be imitators of Christ and welcome all to his table of grace. 

At St. Mark's the age of first communion also varies.  In conversation with the pastor, parents may determine when their children begin receiving the sacrament.  Generally it is sometime after the child can extend his or her hand to receive food and drink and the whole community joins in the celebration.  Our hope in our policy and practice is to avoid making the sacrament simply an act "effective by it's mere performance" or dependent upon our "intellectual understanding of Christ's presence and gifts" (The Use of the Means of Grace). 

Between those two points is fertile ground for faith to seek understanding which may actually deepen the mystery of Christ’s presence among us! Yeah... pretty incredible I know!  That’s why we take time each year during our educational hour for the whole congregation to ponder what it means for us to hear, “This is my body given for you.  This is my blood shed for you.”  

So come.  It is the Lord’s table, not our own.  It is here that we have the Word of God bound together with bread and wine so that we might be fed with the food that truly gives LIFE, begining now and never ending! Thanks be to God.