I agree with your take on communion as an actual meal. Concerning excluding unbelievers because they can’t “connect” with it, did the early church use this rationale for any means of grace (e.g., Scripture reading, teaching, songs, prayers)? Don’t the new covenant and the gospel of the torn veil call out to and welcome people from all nations, rather than leave them spiritually or physically hungry? Did unbelieving family members at the agape feast only watch others eat? What of Judas at the meal? —R.O.
Although they were hospitable, gracious, and welcoming of persons from all nations and stations, the early church practiced closed communion. In fact, that was the case until just a few centuries ago. I am not sure we sin if we fail to follow their example, though such a practice has a certain appeal to me. (Communion would be removed from open, evangelistic, Sunday services. We could easily take the Lord’s Supper in small groups, or at a Sunday evening gathering.)
Note that Judas left before the end of the meal. “After the Supper Jesus took the cup...”