From the PC(USA) Book of Order, the Directory for Worship section on Baptism, W-2.4011:
“Who may receive: The invitation to the Lord’s Supper is extended to all who have been baptized, remembering that access to the Table is not a right conferred upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance, and love. In preparing to receive Christ in this Sacrament, the believer is to confess sin and brokenness, to seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and to trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal. Even one who doubts or whose trust is wavering may come to the Table in order to be assured of God’s love and grace in Christ Jesus.”
Today in Chapel we were getting ready to receive communion, “This is not our Table, this is not a Presbyterian Table, this is not a Seminary Table, this is Christ’s Table.” And then, I heard something that I haven’t heard before. “All those who have faith in Christ and who are baptized may come to the Table.” Yup, never heard it before, but apparently it’s right there in the PC(USA) Book of Order. And I’m wondering what exactly do I do with that…
When I first heard it this morning, it just didn’t sit right with me. Perhaps it was a slip, because we aren’t in a 100% PC(USA) setting where everyone would have been baptized as an infant or gone through
confirmation, so perhaps it was just a mistake. But I found myself thinking, “I don’t think I could say that.”
And I think I’m probably a bit more sensitive to some of these issues related to baptism because I wasn’t baptized until I was 23. I was dedicated in a PC(USA) church as an infant, and, because of my mother’s Mennonite values and beliefs, was told that when I was ready to be baptized when I got older, I should do that. And it didn’t happen during college because we were all pretty big church-shoppers back then. So it didn’t happen until I was working in a church in southern Idaho, and it was a pretty great experience, getting dunked and all.
I don’t know – I’m just thinking a lot about baptism today.
And I don’t even really know where I’m at with infant baptism either. I can see arguments for and against it, and obviously I’m coming from a more Anabaptist perspective in my own experience. I don’t know.
I don’t view it as necessary for salvation; so if someone, for whatever reason, hasn’t been baptized, I still believe they should be able to partake in communion and be a part of the body of Christ, so I don’t really know what to do with that line in the Book of Order. I’ve talked to some people today and not many people have ever heard that said in a church before.
Anything that sounds like it’s “closing” off the table of grace and love…that’s not something I’m interested in. But when, how does that work out for me, as a potential PC(USA)-ordained something-er-other, and the Book of Order. How does all of THAT play out?