An Open Table is extravagant, radical hospitality, and that’s one reason I so love the church I'm serving, because we “get it.” We actually GET that.
I once went on a retreat at the Carmelite monastery over in City to the East. And of course as guests at the monastery we were invited to come to mass, but I was told that since I was not Catholic I couldn’t participate. What I would do, I was told, was go forward with the others, but when it came my turn there to face the priest, I would cross my arms and instead of the bread and wine, I would receive a blessing – a blessing which I have no memory of at all, because by the time I left that place at week’s end, the pain of exclusion was at the forefront of my experience.
I read a little essay by Scott Peck once where he described going on retreat at a convent where the Mother Superior obtained a dispensation for him, so that he could participate in the mass and partake fully of Holy Communion. And the experience of partaking of the body and blood, turned out to be a truly holy experience for him, and contributed a lot to him being baptized and becoming a Christian.
You see, the thing is, we never know what might happen. We can't predict how "the Spirit will blow" in someone else's life. In my view the Table is not our table. We have no right to exclude anyone because it belongs, not to us, but to God. Human beings are so beautifully complex that the ritual of symbols and symbolic action can and do, at times, lead us into something that actually transforms our lives for the better. Personally I don’t believe as Catholics do that the bread and the juice become the actual body and blood of Jesus, and yet . . . can the bread and the juice become doorways through which we pass and are never the same again? Doorways through which we come to know the same power that made Jesus the Christ? Oh yes! That’s the stunning beauty and power of ritual and symbol, and especially, in my experience, of Holy Communion. I've come to believe that the invitation to participate in something with that kind of spiritual potential for good should not be denied to anyone.
Because we never know how the Spirit may be working in that human being's life.
We just never know.