Can you have the sacrament of Holy Communion if you chew gum in worship?

Recently there was an article in The Charlotte Observer about a young person who was denied communion in the church of his/her faith tradition.

There was great debate between the mother of the youth and the religious leaders as to whether or not the young person was denied communion because of chewing gum or some supposed assumptions about sexual orientation. Apparently to take communion in that faith tradition you are supposed to fast for 24 hours prior. The religious leader said he saw the young person chewing gum during the service. The young person said they spit out their gum 30 minutes prior to getting in the communion line.

Regardless, it was just a bizarre article about someone being able or rather, NOT be able to participate in the sacrament of communion.

One of the beautiful things in the United Methodist tradition is that the communion table is open to everyone! This is modeled after the way Jesus lived and loved.

Jesus hung out with those no one else would have. He had a corrupt IRS guy, Levi. Not to mention there was a prostitute who anointed him. And don’t forget the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief.

Instead of judging others by their dysfunction, Jesus opposed the ones who got in the way of people finding and experiencing his grace.

“But the Pharisees and their scribes complained to Jesus’ disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’” Luke 5:31.

When Jesus referred to the pure in heart, he wasn’t referring to the best behaved, most religious people around. Instead, he was referring to the ones who knew they needed help. The ones who showed up when issued an invitation. The ones grateful for ay nice gesture they were granted.

We only see what is on the outside. God sees the heart in ways no one else can.

How can we be more pure in heart? Could we perhaps stop looking at others with eyes of religiosity and instead see all people with the eyes of Jesus?