A Meditation on Communion

By Fr. Rick Putman
Walk into the worship space of any traditional Episcopal Church and what do you notice first? The Altar, of course, that holy table at which the Holy Eucharist is celebrated and from which the Holy Communion is offered and shared.

The Altar is not only an architectural focal point, but more importantly it is the sacramental center of our spiritual lives. What is a sacrament, you might ask? The customary answer is: A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. This definition has served the church quite well for centuries, but to this seeker, something is missing. And what might be the missing ingredient? Let’s name it “mystery.” And so a new definition: A sacrament is a mysterious incarnation of divine grace and holy love. (Yes, this does mean all of creation is a sacrament.)

The Episcopal Church recognizes all seven traditional liturgical sacraments: Eucharist, Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination, Marriage, Reconciliation, and Unction. To my way of thinking, the Holy Eucharist is the sacramental fountain from which all other sacraments flow. Why? Because it is table-centered. And why is table-centered so important? Think about it, Jesus did a great deal of his preaching, teaching, healing, caring, and loving at an inclusive table. One might say his entire ministry was (is) figuratively and literally table-centered. And so, in imitation of Jesus, the table-centered Holy Eucharist stands at the sacramental center of our lives.

We at The Abbey have been called to share Jesus’ radical table-centered hospitality; no one is excluded and all are invited. If you’re hungry, you’ll be fed. If you’re thirsty, we have drink. If you’re lonely, your friends are waiting for you. Our table awaits you.

For those of us who worship at The Abbey, the table-centered Holy Eucharist is a sacramental expression of our ministry of radical hospitality. This table doesn’t belong to The Abbey. It doesn’t belong to the Episcopal Church. It doesn’t belong to the priest. It is Jesus’ table, and everyone has a place at this table. If you’re hungry, and you come, you will be fed.