Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Christ's Open Table -- Moltmann's thoughts


I was first introduced to Jurgen Moltmann during seminary -- when I read The Church in the Power of the Spirit (Harper and Row, 1977). That book was transformative because it helped me put into personal context my own experiences in Pentecostalism, which I had since left. I was reading Moltmann's autobiography last night, and he noted that this text didn't get quite the response as some of his other books, but I must admit it's still my favorite.

As I had posted something earlier from Moltmann on the open invitation at the table, I wanted to add something more. I should say that Moltmann makes an expansive discussion of the Lord's Supper in this book, and it's worth reading.

Having just previously said that in his view "the fellowship of the table must be central to the assembled congregation, just as much as the proclamation of the gospel," he speaks of the invitation to the table.

Because of Christ's prevenient and unconditional invitation, the fellowship of the table cannot be restricted to people who are "faithful to the church", or to the "inner circle" of the community. For it is not the feast of the particularly righteous, or the people who think that they are particularly devout; it is the feast of the weary and heavy-laden, who have heard the call to refreshment. We must ask ourselves whether baptism and confirmation ought to go on counting as the presuppositions for "admittance" to the Lord's Supper. If we remember that Jesus' meal with tax-collectors and sinners is also present in the Lord's supper, then the open invitation to it should also be carried "into the highways and by-ways." It will then lose its "mystery" character, but it will not become an ordinary meal for all that, because the invitation is a call to the fellowship of the crucified one and an invitation in his name to the reconciliation with God (1 Cor. 11:27). (Church in the Power of the Spirit, pp. 259-260).


Note that Moltmann makes Jesus' own table fellowship the foundation. Thus, we must forbid no one Christ would dine with. Any other interpretations/texts need to be interpreted in the light of that fellowship.

And, we should make the table fellowship central to our worship -- not so that we can privately commune with God, but so that we can share in fellowship with Christ's body -- which is the community gathered at the table.

Oh, and one more day until the Moltmann Conversation begins!

1 comment:

jerry bates said...

Very inspirational speech I loved how he aimed for our kids of today to plan for tomorrow, its not giving them political empowerment or guiding them in the wrong direction as the media portrayed but its giving them hope that through all the struggles and storms you may cross you will come out the hero In the end way to go Mr. President.