All are Welcome at the Lord’s Table

Karen Scribano   -  

Jeff Teske grew up going to church every Sunday. With grandparents who founded Trinity Lutheran Church in Moline, IL, and parents who had always been members there, attending on Sunday mornings was never an option – it was an expectation.  When Jeff graduated from high school and joined the Air Force, he reveled in the idea that he could make his own decisions, and he left not only his childhood behind, but his church, as well.

The years passed.  Jeff went to work at John Deere after the Air Force, then made a major career change and went through nursing school.  While on the job, he met a sweet pharmacist who came into his unit for blood pressure checks.  When she eventually announced that she was moving to Des Moines to be near her family, he married her and moved along.  Interestingly, she mimicked the church attendance of his parents and grandparents – worship every Sunday, but at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  On occasion, he would attend with her–Christmas, Easter, when a granddaughter was singing—but he often felt out of place during worship and, in fact, was reminded that he was an outsider when told that he could not take the eucharist. “I hated that I was not able to take communion.  I was a baptized and confirmed Christian, and I felt entitled to it!”

Easter 2018 arrived, and as the family was preparing for Easter worship, Jeff realized it had been 50 years since his last meaningful worship experience. He decided to forego the family worship in order to seek personal fulfillment in a more familiar setting.  “I didn’t do research; I didn’t ask around; I just went to the Lutheran church that was closest to where my family would be, and that was St. Mark.”  He arrived early, but there were already a few people in the gathering space.  He noticed that they were laughing and smiling.  He found a seat in an empty row, but realized he was probably sitting in somebody’s spot, and was ready to move if anyone asked him.  Instead, he found himself seated between Sally Ehlert and Bruce Carlson, who introduced themselves and made him feel right at home.  He loved hearing the organ music and was astonished when people clapped for the choir’s moving offertory music. But he really sat up and took note when he heard the pastor inviting people forward for communion.  “He said, ‘All are welcome at the Lord’s table.’  I found a home with that statement.  As I went forward to receive the elements, I was smiling the whole time! I remember looking out the tall window by the cross at the front of the sanctuary and being overcome with the feeling that God is out there; God’s watching us.”

Jeff still finds these words to be impactful for him today. “After not feeling welcome for so many years, I pay attention to that statement every time I worship.” What a blessing it is to share Jesus Christ in such a personal way – through His body and blood, which are given for us. For you. For all.