Visitors to Epiphany are given a rousing invitation to our table when the congregation proclaims, “The gifts of God are free!” We invite and welcome all persons to the table of grace. All literally means all. No one is excluded.
Our open communion practice is faithful to the biblical and infant church practices of Holy Communion. The death and resurrection of Jesus not only opens up God’s salvation for all; it also is the end of everything that divides and fragments us.
A study of all major biblical narratives that involve a meal in which God or Jesus is the host reveals that all present were invited and included. In the gathering that inaugurated the church’s meal – the Last Supper – Jesus communed even the one who would deny him, the one who would betray him, and the others who would desert him.
The notion that one must pass a communion class to be admitted to the table is a human concept and not God’s. The notion that only the baptized are to commune is another human concept and not God’s. The idea that persons must have a theological understanding of the meal is a human construct and not God’s. The idea that one must be worthy to receive communion is another human concept and not God’s. The essence of the gospel is that none of us are worthy. We come to receive the goodness of God and the gifts of table not because we are good or worthy but because God is great.
As Lutherans we hold to the understanding that participating in the church’s meal instills faith in us and affirms our place in God’s family. For this reason, it is doubly important that infants commune as soon as they are able to receive the elements. By doing so, their identity as children of God and full participants in receiving the gifts of God is forged as their memory begins to develop.
When we gather for Holy Communion each week we are a sign of what the prophet promised:
"On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will make a feast for ALL people.” Isaiah 25:6