Dr. Deirdre Good from GTS has posted a most thought-provoking work on hospitality. This is, of course, a virtue constantly emphasized in Benedict’s Rule that reminds us that love of neighbor is only realized when enacted–especially as we greet Christ in the person of the stranger. In this reflection, Dr. Good presents the open table as a central practice of Christian hospitality.
I like her reflection–but I’m not ultimately convinced. The Eucharist is not just a meal–it is a ritual meal. Christians believe that there is something categorically different between eating this bread and drinking this wine and eating other bread, drinking other wine. A non-Christian would presumably not agree. As Anglicans we believe that Christ is truly present in this meal in a way not found in others. I’m feeling something around this that I can’t articulate with the precision I’d like yet–but it’s something like this: If we believe that Christ is really present do we take the presence of divinity so lightly? So much so that we do not even warn those who are about to take it into their own bodies? Is this a domestication of divinity–an assumption of safety–that attempts to collapse an encounter with the Wholly Other?