Sit, Stay, Go - A Dilemma in Table Manners

The UMC has an open table when it comes to Communion. We take the theological stand that the communion table is one that belongs to Christ and putting restrictions on who can and cannot feast with Christ at table is not the place of the church. We understand that Jesus did not kick people out of the room when the Eucharist ("Last Supper") was instituted. We hold fast to the promise that when we come to the table we may very well be changed and that, in part, is the power of being at the table with God and others. 

 Sitting, Staying and Going with Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue Jr. ( hear my interview with him here )

Sitting, Staying and Going with Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue Jr. (hear my interview with him here)

We understand that the communion table is a place where people are invited to sit, stay at, AND go from. We trust, have faith and place some hope in the repetition of sit, stay AND go. It may take time, much longer than we may even want to admit, but we continue the practice of sit, stay AND go. 

Within the church there are people who feel sit, stay AND go is not applicable for other tables. Rather, the position seems to be taken (on both left and right) that we need to sit, stay OR go from tables. Here are a couple of examples:

Some conservatives desire that the UMC should no longer sit and stay but rather go from the table of Religious Coalition For Reproductive Choice (RCRC). The UMC is a founding member of the RCRC and while the RCRC may not line up 100% with the UMC on a very difficult topic it is also the case that the members of the UMC are not all aligned with the official stance of the church on these same matters. The power of sit, stay and go was abandoned in favor of forcing a choice. The UMC chose to go. So the UMC is no longer going to the RCRC table.

Some progressives desire that the UMC should divest (an economic term meaning to "leave") from companies dealing in fossil fuels. There were votes that were taken but the UMC vote to stay at the table of companies dealing in such industry. Some of the rational that I heard was that these same companies are the ones leading the way on renewable energy source and that being a shareholder gives us vote and voice to influence these companies. The UMC chose to stay at this table.  

Choosing to only "go" from tables because the table does not align with our current values or we are not influencing the table any longer is missing a larger point. Table fellowship does not come with the expectation to change the minds of others at table but to be open to the reality that we may be the ones who are changed. It took Jesus courage to sit, stay AND go from the table with Judas and Peter. It takes courage to sit at, stay with AND go from a table that you feel like you cannot change. It takes courage to be continue the sit, stay AND go pattern because that cycle may influence/change you.

The courageous sit, stay AND go.

The proud sit, stay OR go.

My concern is that my denomination is divorcing our table theology from our table practice.