It was 9:45, probably close to hour twelve and a half of our work together for General Assembly...and it's only day TWO! We were blearly eyed and sweating from sitting in a stuffy, hot room trying to sort out details for the week's events. The last thing many of us probably wanted to do was worship. I know that sounds strange, but we were on a streak of busy days. Sometimes it seems appealing to open up our theology a bit wider, say that we don't need to "formally worship" to actually worship God, and then go on our merry way to something that seems more enjoyable. Come on, you've all thought that at least once in your life!
But worship we did. Centered around a spirit of fears and hopes, the worship team walked us through the emotions that fill us before the Assembly begins: "What are your fears for this week? What do you bring with you to the Table?" (And we'd love to head your answers to these questions in the comments!) As an ally, I am painfully aware of my privilege: married, ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) serving in a progressive, affirming congregation. At one point in our planning I stepped back and asked the group if they really thought I was the right person to preside over communion. Wouldn't they want someone lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer to serve at the Table? Wouldn't that embody our message more than me?! Could I really offer the message of an open Table when I, in fact, embody much of the privilege that so many people in the church do not have access to?
Power and privilege are not easy to bear. And so with the guidance of the worship team I approached the Table, I offered these words to our group: "Here, in God's Creation, there are no boundaries. God knows not of ordination standards, polity, ordination exams and yes, even the Book of Order. It's hard to believe, I know! This night we are all invited into the story of that Jesus' fateful evening..." We all joined in the story of Jesus' last meal with his disciples as the bread was broken and the cup poured out. We used our own words, stories, and memories to share in the narrative of God's story among us. To say that we are welcoming moves beyond the human made boundaries that we create. It is to say that we are uniquely called to be a part of the full body of the Church, one that calls and ordains each one of us to service in Creation. It says that we are not only welcome to the Table, but active participants in the life-giving meal that has been prepared for us.
by Larissa Kwong Abazia