Over at RevGals we are discussing Good Fences: The Boundaries of Hospitality by Caroline A. Westerhoff. It's a great discussion...go join in!
The part that really hit me with this book was the baptism issue and the hospitality to the Buddhist monks. IMHO (& I haven't got the benefit of seminary education nor ordination, so it's a very HO), the grace of this action was outstanding.
As an Episcopalian, and many have commented on this thread, it troubles me much that we have a statement on our parish bulletin that says, "we do not practice a closed Communion...that is, if you are a baptized Christian and receive Communion at your own church, you are welcome to receive with us." (my memory of the wording.) So, if you're already saved, come on up....
And, yet, the Feast of St. Matthew was celebrated last week and here is part of the gospel (Matt. 9:9-13):
"As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
"While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples.
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
"On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I wanted to jump right up in church and say, HEY! WHAT UP!? Who do we think we are by closing our Communion and including just us...who are presumably "the healthy"? (More or less; a lot of times less!)
I get the theology of the importance of the sacrament of baptism (the font in my church is by the door...the altar is in front) and the reasons for the attachment of participation in Communion to it. I'm not easy with it, though.
In a discussion of this recently, a friend said, "Well, if they weren't baptized, why would they WANT to take Communion?"
Well, I said, to be A PART OF this community, that's why. This is where I and this particular friend depart ways...she is more "God said it, I believe it, that settles it," and I am more "Jesus didn't say, 'only allow baptized folks to come to communion' so don't let 'em come..."
Said in another way...I believe God calls me to be hospitable in the world. She believes that people have to follow her rules, then it's right to include them. I don't want to be part of that club.
This friend is a cradle Episcopalian who has recently departed the church for an Anglican congregation. Because, according to her, our Presiding Bishop is all about good works and not about the Gospel.
And to me...our hospitality IS the Gospel.