Something new is going to happen this Sunday. We will be sharing in our first-ever shared communion service in Indiana of the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). Our two denominations have come to an understanding of faith which allows us to share Holy Communion together, and so Bishop James Stuck (ELCA) and I will concelebrate Holy Communion this Sunday, January 29th, at 3:00 PM at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Jim will preach and I will preside, and we will inaugurate the first official UMC/ELCA service of Holy Communion in Indiana. I hope that many of our local churches will then follow suite and find times to celebrate together at the Lord's Table.
Interestingly, I find that many United Methodists don't quite understand the significance of this kind of sharing at the Lord's Table. Perhaps that is because we United Methodists celebrate "open communion" in our churches, which means that anyone who responds to the Invitation can participate in Holy Communion in our churches. Perhaps we take it for granted that followers of Christ can gather without obstacles to sharing at the Lord's Table.
But sadly the Christian community is divided and many barriers do exist to our sharing in Communion. Some of those barriers are theological, others are church polity and policy. I believe that our Lord is grieved that his followers are do divided. The great prayer of Jesus in John 17 makes it clear Jesus yearns for us to be "one" so that the world may see the witness of our solidarity.
So this Sunday is a special day, it is even an historic day, and it is a step in the right direction. The Lord invites us to come together at His Table.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner