The young couple hurried their toddler down the long hall to the nursery. They were late for church–again.  They could blame the baby for their tardiness to church, but really, they were just adjusting to a later service time–11am–when they were used to being one of the first ones to help set up for a 9am service.

“Hello, Tyson!  Good to see you this morning!” Katie, the middle-aged nursery worker exclaimed to their son.

“Hey, Kate.” The younger women said handing over the baby bag.  “We’re sorry we’re late again. It’s my fault this time.  I had the brilliant idea to make pancakes this morning and it took longer than expected.”

“Pay-Cakes!!!!!” Tyson exclaimed.

“Yes, Pay-cakes. Mama needs to learn to mix the batter earlier, huh?” she enthused and offered Kate a grateful smile. “We’ll see you after service?”

“Oh, no not today, honey!”

The couple stopped and turned around as they were already making our way to the sanctuary.

“Why?”asked the young man.

“Because it’s Communion Sunday.  I always bring the kids into the service for Communion. It was the only way I agreed to teach nursery, if Pastor Mike made provision for me to bring the children to their parents for Communion.  I firmly believe they should see their parents taking the elements and for that matter, I need to take Communion.”

The couple’s  Pentecostal, seeker-sensitve church raised minds could not fathom why a person would “need” to take Communion–it was just a stale cracker and thimble full of warm grape juice. One needs that like they need to find a hair in their crawfish etouffee.


In our years at Canal Pres, they learned from Kate, Pastor Mike, and many others the power of communion in a loving community.  We learned from the words of institution, that all are invited to eat and drink:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when he was betrayed, took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, ‘Take; eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he also took the cup after the supper, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you. This cup is the New Testament in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”

Taking and eating in a community of believers who loved us, my husband and I-quickly realized we needed to take the Communion too. The invitation to the table is an invitation to be known for who you are, what you’ve done, how you’ve failed, and yet the invitation stands.  Come and receive a love that intercepts the trajectory of shame.


The first time I served Communion, I was in a church that was slowly eating away at my hope for the Body.  The leadership, although sincere in their love for Jesus and their community, just didn’t get us.

We were too diverse–black and white (gasp!) my husband was an ex-gang member (clutch the pearls!), and we child that was clearly born out of wedlock (hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wives, the fornicators have arrived)!

We were too idealistic with our CCDA notions of moving into the inner city (because we did that in New Orleans; why not here in Boston, too). Were were too radical with our talk of the poor, the outcasts, and suggesting residents of the local housing development who the church will happily give bread to, might appreciate an invitation to come and break bread with us, too.

My husband was laughed at and called too “prophetic” for his own good.  I sat in a car with a leader, one in whom I saw so much of myself and hoped a vibrant mentoring relationship would bloom, and was told, “You’re different.  You’re not like us. Both you and TC don’t quite fit in–-and that’s ok.”

In spite of the repeated hurts, we had hope, so we served fatefully for two years. Not just in various ministries and at events, but consistently on the Communion serving team:  every six weeks my husband and I stood in front of hundreds and people and speak the blessing over them: “This is Christ’s Body broken for you; this is Christ’s blood shed for you.”

We loved when people would wear name tags, so we could attach their rightful blessing to the given names.  It was powerful and healing in a very toxic environment.


Our time came to a close at that church, and to celebrate not just our time there but the end of a “successful” year of ministry, the leadership decided to have a celebration at one of the best Chinese restaurants in the area.  I know it’s highly Westernized and terrible for me, but I love Chinese food and this place was known for their incredible fried rice and chicken dishes.  Everyone raved for weeks in the staff meetings, so much so,  that the day  of, I didn’t eat anything but a cinnamon raisin bagel–I wanted to be hungry when I got to the celebration dinner.  And hungry I was. I snapped at my husband when he took too long to pick a shirt, I rushed the kids to find their shoes and “so help me, Jesus if you get dirty and have to change when it’s time for us to leave, I will make you rue the day!”

I was what some may call, hangry.  But I was “hangry” for the good stuff, so I gave myself a pass.  I knew the moment I sat down with that plate of sweet and sour chicken, all the stomach pains and snappy words would have been worth it.

We finally made our way down to the well-appointed basement meeting space and the buffet before me was more than I dreamed.  I think I drooled a bit, but I’m a lady so I think I masked it as a sneeze into a tissue pulled out of my purse.  I made small talk down wind from the lo mien and prayed to Jesus that traffic would be smooth for all those still on their way. I was ready to take and eat.

The lead pastor finally blessed the food and like a good mama I made my kids’ plates first, sampling what I call, “mom tax” but really I was deciding exactly what I  wanted for my very own, long awaited plate. I loaded it up with a little bit of everything that caught my eye and made my way back to the table.  My husband was talking about theology and one of the other pastors was trying to change the subject to how fun it is some of the pastor wives have tattoos, “how edgy!” , and for the first time all day, my kids were blessedly quiet with mouths full of saucy broccoli.

I picked up my fork, smiled at the beautiful plate, and right as I was about to dig in, I heard that pastor who told me that we didn’t belong laugh from across the room and every  hurtful word, intentional or otherwise from every leader in that room ever said flooded my mind:

too much;
not enough;
too girly;

Their words spoken over us, negated the invitation to come to the table, take and eat.

I drive by that church every work to go to work, remember that dinner, and think about how we might do this sometimes.  How our  unintentional words about the “other” might prevent them from coming to the table of our Lord to take and eat.

How when we say we “love the sinner and hate the sin” we’ve just told our LGTBQ brothers and sister that the love at this table is conditional on your orientation–get that fixed and then you’ll be worthy of the body and blood.

How when we say we’re “colorblind” or “past racism” or ask, “why does everything have to be about race with you” we’ve just told friend of color–the black youth, the Middle-Eastern soccer mom, the Latina Harvard student that this table is about conformity to a dominate culture and not being shaped into the Kingdom of God.

How when we say to a woman called to preach, “women should be silent,” we’ve just told a fellow co-laborer that you may come to the table, but you must mind your manners, hold your tongue, and wait your turn.

How when we say to the person whose sin is slightly beyond our capacity for grace, “handle your stuff with God. Seek forgiveness first and then you may come and take,” we’ve just told them the table is for the perfect disciples and surely not the betrayer of Jesus and the denier of the Savior.

But wait…

The table is for all. For you and for me, regardless of the state of our souls, Jesus desires to sustain us with his very own flesh and blood.

And yet when we’re suppose to be the Body, the mouthpieces of Christ, we actively send people away from blessed nourishment before you’ve even broken the wafer and poured the juice.  Is it any wonder why they don’t come up?  Is it any wonder if they do muster up to courage to come and eat, the memories of our words makes the sumptuous table as unappetizing as a brittle leaf and  puddle water?  I bet they’re hungry, like I was hungry for Chinese.


I ate that meal. I was hungry and I wasn’t about to cook ramen that night when high end Chinese was before me, but I hurt with every bite.  I doubted with every swallow.  I felt emptier as I cleared that plate and I realized breaking bread with believers is only a joy when love precedes the invitation, is woven into the fellowship, and hovers over the sending off.


I want to be the kind of Christian who makes space at the table for the outcasts, not just when I invite them to the table on a Sunday morning but as I go throughout my week.  I want to be the kind of Christian that leads with love, speaks shalom, and gives amazing benedictions.  I want to be the kind of Christian says, come sit by me at this table.  You’re flawed.  I’m flawed. And yet we’re both loved so much that Jesus would rather die an excruciating death than live an eternity without us. So, here’s the bread.  Here’s the cup.  Let’s take and let’s eat.

Thanks be to God.