I really don’t want to use news about other denominations as marketing for my own church, but living in Madison, it’s hard not to want to take advantage of developments in the Roman Catholic Church. Now, Bishop Morlino has recommended that a hymn entitled “All are Welcome” is not appropriate for use in the Mass. Here’s Doug Erickson’s article on Madison.com. Apparently, Bishop Morlino believes that all are not welcome at the Lord’s table.
I’ve toyed over the years with several marketing strategies for disaffected Catholics: “The Episcopal Church: All of the liturgy, none of the guilt” is one. OK, yes, that was a joke. The national church has had a slogan “The Episcopal Church welcomes you.” Perhaps we need to be even more clear in our message, at least in Madison: “The Episcopal Church: All are welcome here!”
And we mean it, whether you’re Episcopalian, or Roman Catholic, or just seeking!
Bishop Morlino of the Catholic Diocese of Madison, has instructed his clergy to limit the sharing of wine at communion with the laity. Here’s the article.
His decision comes after the Archbishop of Phoenix announced a similar change. Stories about that are here, with a riposte from Anthony Ruff here.
I’m hesitant to comment about development in other denominations because of “the mote in my own eye.” But as a pastor, and as a historian of the period in Christian history when the debate over reception of communion in both kinds burned hot, I find this sad. I won’t debate the legal merits of the decision or even the theological basis (of course Jesus Christ is fully present in both bread and wine). What bothers me is the implicit sacerdotalism and clericalism. To worry about spillage of wine or that some might receive it irreverently seems code language implying that only priests can approach the sacrament. The sharing of the chalice by lay people with lay people is an important symbol of the fact that we are all the Body of Christ and that we all are equally worthy (or unworthy) to approach the holy.
And then there are Jesus’ words:
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (I Corinthians 11:25-26)
All baptized Christians are welcome to receive communion in both kinds at Eucharists at Grace and other Episcopal Churches and we encourage lay people to become chalice bearers.