Food Fights Among Christians
By Rev. Dave Schmidt
I never got into the big food fights one might see among the three stooges or maybe the students at Hogwarts. Oh I recall a few minor scrimmages in my high school dining hall, but nothing that ended up in the principal's office. However, I have experienced several food fights around the table of the Lord.
Christians often get into disagreements about Holy Communion - especially about who can share at the Lord's table. When I was growing up, we had Communion once a quarter and the number of people in church declined on those Sundays. Why? Because some weren't sure they were worthy of coming to the table. Yet this was a Methodist Church where the invitation given invited all who wanted to lead a new life before God. Perhaps too many sermons about the dangers of going to hell scared people. Perhaps we didn't really grasp being save by grace instead of by our lawful good deeds.
As I came to grasp the awesome invitation given by Jesus, I was glad to participate in the meal that was Holy Communion. I heard the invitation to the Lord's Supper as welcoming all. But I have experienced "food fights" with other Christians about this welcome.
In a lab school where I joined several other Sunday school teachers learning to work with persons with handicapping conditions, my partner and I chose to teach a lesson on communion to the class of teens with Down's Syndrome. We decided to end the lesson by serving communion. I never saw a whole class of teens so caught up in the mystery of the sharing of communion. However, after the class (as is the case in a lab school) we gathered with the other teachers in training to be greeted with a challenge. How could we serve communion to these "children" who could not possibly understand it? They seemed to have missed the looks of the students that clearly said they were caught up at the table of the Lord.
In another instance, some of my students at the Wesley Foundation at NIU elected to accompany their friends from the Roman Catholic Center on a retreat. These students often came to some of our events and a few had even shared communion. As the students reported back to me, it had been a great sharing event until the end. At that point the priest came to them and told them they could not participate in the Eucharist with their friends. They were crushed.
As kids, we thought food fights were funny and didn't really hurt anyone. However, in the history of the church food fights turn out to be painful and disruptive of the message of Jesus who invited people from the highways and byways to break bread together.