I don’t like politics. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the opportunity afforded me to vote, I don’t like politics, mainly, because I don’t like to know what people think about issues that are divisive and polarizing. As grateful as I am to have the privilege to add my voice to the governing of the United States, I do sometimes wish that the process was a tad less anger-filled. Did you know that there’s a presidential election in November? I joke, I joke. Of course you do. If you’re at all like me, you might like to crawl in a hole until the whole thing is over, when you’re able to look at your Facebook news feed in peace again. But, sadly, we can’t crawl in a hole while people bicker over which candidate is best and who is or isn’t going to make America great again. We have to live and work alongside people whose political views may upset or disappoint us.
The toughest part of the political process, for me, is that they make us show our cards, the ones we so often keep close to our chest. We must expose how we really feel about issues that matter considerably to us as we think about issues that can affect our own or other communities across our nation and around the world. I wonder if, in the context of this political theater, you’ve learned things about your friends and family that you wish you didn’t know. I know I have.
I have learned things about my friends and family that I wish I didn’t know. I have, in essence, seen their cards. Sometimes I like what I see but other times I don’t. But here’s the deal, I have friends and family who support Donald Trump as well as friends and family who support Hillary Clinton. You know what? I am going to continue loving them both. I loved them before they had to show their cards and I will love them after I have seen their cards. This is no easy task, but for me, the Lord’s Table challenges and guides me as I endeavor to keep loving folks with cards that are so different from my own. Maybe it will for you, too.
The Lord’s table, where we receive the holy sacrament of communion, is a place at which we are reminded just how much God loves us. During the words of institution, we recall Christ’s broken body and shed blood, we witness the powerful ways that the Holy Spirit calls us together to be one body, we remember who we are as God’s people and what we’re supposed to do.
When we approach the table, we can’t pick and choose who is standing beside, in front of, or behind us. Christ calls everyone to the table. Republicans and democrats. Vol fans and Gator fans. Rich and poor. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what cards you have or haven’t shown; Christ doesn’t discriminate like we often do. Christ doesn’t instruct big oil folks to go to one table and environmentalists to another. Christ doesn’t point NRA members to one loaf of bread and gun control advocates to another. Christ doesn’t create small, like-minded communities, he prepares a large table for all people to gather.
The Lord’s table is messy, big, dangerous, and beautiful. The Lord’s Table calls together people who are pro-life and pro-choice, conservative and liberal, social welfare advocates and those who seek a small government, folks in the top 1% of earners as well as the rest of us. Christ doesn’t care which cards we show; it doesn’t matter. What matters is God’s unbelievable love for us and our call to experience it and share it.
The Lord’s table reminds us that our tables, the ones at which we gather for meals, laughter, and heated discussion, are to be as open and inclusive as Christ’s own table. Christ sees the cards that we keep so close to our chests (the ones that we show during the election season) and he calls us together anyway because love is greater than any of these cards.
That must be tough for Christ; it’s certainly tough for me. I would very much like to estrange myself from certain folks because my cards don’t match theirs. The cards that Christ laid down led to his execution because they didn’t match those who were in power in his day. But, he still seeks relationships with everyone.
We, as a people, need what Christ offers at the Lord’s table now more than ever. We need the reminder that God’s love for us and God’s call for us to love one another is greater and more powerful than any of the cards that seek to separate and estrange us during this political season. Christ’s call isn’t for some; it’s for all. That’s tough stuff, friends. In the midst of this divisive political context, let’s continue to love one another. When we find that almost too daunting to bear, may the love of God we experience through Christ, the love we experience at the Lord’s Table, remind us of the incredible way that love can unify people when it is experienced and shared.
Andy Morgan is the campus minister at UKirk, the Collegiate Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Andy is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Union Presbyterian Seminary. Andy is an ordained Teaching Elder (Minister of Word and Sacrament) and a member of the Presbytery of East Tennessee.