Occasionally we are asked whether we “fence” the table at Christ Church. The answer is yes, but for those who ask, it can sometimes appear that the answer is no. So I want to explain why we fence the table the way we do.
First off, you may have noticed the paragraph in the bulletin at the bottom of the third page entitled “May I Come to the Lord’s Table?” That is our standing invitation and fencing. It basically says that everyone is welcome to partake of this meal with us (even visitors), so long as they are baptized, under the authority of the Church, professing faith in Christ alone, and not under church discipline.
Second, we really do want to emphasize that this is the Lord’s Table. It is not our “Christ Church table” or a “CREC table” or even a sectarian “Reformed table.” It is the table of Jesus Christ. He always presides here. He is at the head of the table every week. So we want to mimic His invitation and any warnings He gives. Everyone that Jesus welcomes, we want to welcome. It seems to us that in the historic practice of fencing the table, the emphasis has frequently been heavy on the warnings and light on the welcome. It is true that Jesus warned the disciples at the Last Supper that one would betray Him, and Paul certainly warned the Corinthians that they were playing with fire. But the striking thing is that in neither case were the offenders forbidden from coming. In fact, all the indications are that Judas took the Lord’s Supper and then Satan entered him.
So what we have wanted to emphasize here is the invitation: Come. This is not because we do not believe in church discipline. We do, and from time to time individual members are suspended temporarily from the Lord’s Supper, and occasionally, when a member refuses to repent of long standing, high handed sin, they are excommunicated and barred from the table until they repent. And the elders of Christ Church do take that responsibility seriously. And this is why we do not believe you should decide whether to take the Lord’s Supper or not from week to week. If you are baptized then you should come, unless the elders say otherwise. If you’re not yet baptized, we invite you to be baptized first, and then come and partake with us.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep the best. Our job is to welcome you to Him. And so we do, and we do so gladly, knowing that He will deal with you perfectly. Lay down your sins and come. He will comfort your hearts, forgive all of your sins, and strengthen you for the journey.
So Come. Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.