When we assemble at this Table we are doing more than simply gathering to be nourished—although that is right at the center of what we do. We also are showing the world where we gather to be nourished.
When a bunch of kids are playing in the neighborhood on a summer afternoon, imagine five or six mothers appearing at their doors around the same time and calling out that dinner is ready. The kids all scatter, and run where? They run to their own homes—the table that is set is one of the means for identifying who belongs where.
This Table is also a household Table. In fact, it is the household table. But there is a difference as well. In the illustration just given, it is not infrequent that one child might be invited to come as a guest to a friend’s house. If we followed the illustration out, why would we not invite “company” to this Table as well? Could we not invite members of other religious faiths here, just as company?
The answer is found in the fact that the Lord does not just feed His children; He has declared His intent to adopt all children. Because of this, it would not be right to say that other children of other households are not invited. They are invited—but they are not just invited to come share a meal or two. They are invited to come into the family, and to come into the family forever.
So we do not keep anyone back from this Table. Far from it. We invite everyone. But to partake of the meal is to agree that you have become a child of God, and if you agree to these terms, then you must also have submitted to what the Lord says his children need to do. The first thing they need to do before coming to the Table is wash—which is why we limit access to those who are baptized. If someone were here who wanted to come to the Table, but who did not want to be baptized, this would simply show that they think the Table is their own, and not the Lord’s. But we would still invite them—to be baptized.