May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:11-14)
Yesterday was World Communion Sunday. The idea originated in a Presbyterian congregation in 1933, was adopted by the church nationally in 1936, quickly spread to other denominations, was endorsed by the National Council of Churches in 1940, and has since spread throughout the world.
The idea was – and is – for Jesus-followers all over the globe to find unity around a common table, symbolically taking communion together. World Communion Sunday is a simple yet profound declaration that our call to be “The Body of Christ” carries more weight than the differences of interpretation and preference that often separate us.
Rebekah welcomed people to the table Sunday morning by saying that, when she first woke up, she immediately thought about the fact that our son, Andrew, had already shared the bread and the wine with his wife, Alicia, and other believers in Italy. And, she said, the wave of shared celebration would continue to move west, with the sun, for the remainder of the day.
WAVE OF LOVE: I like that image. A wave of communion circling the globe; an impulse of self-sacrificial love following the path of the rising sun; a ripple of unity disturbing the critical mass of Pharisaic separateness; an outbreak of viral Christlikeness threatening to unseat the fortresses of smug, moralizing sanctimony; the echo of shared faithfulness resonating across the continents….
- A wave of communion circling the globe;
- An impulse of self-sacrificial love following the path of the rising sun;
- A ripple of unity disturbing the critical mass of Pharisaic separateness;
- An outbreak of viral Christlikeness threatening to unseat the fortresses of smug, moralizing sanctimony.
- The echo of shared faithfulness resonating across the continents….
POWERFUL: Both communion services were powerful in their own way. I love watching the constant movement of people as they stand in line at the four stations to receive the bread and the wine; the uneven rhythm as rows of worshippers rise together at the direction of the ushers while others return to their seats; lines moving in several directions, sometimes overlapping; grace offered, grace received; the informal dignity of the praise Service, the light and beauty of traditional worship.
Yesterday I took communion in the context of just having made a public commitment to follow Jesus as a Wake Forest Presbyterian (WFPC). I met with the elders at around 10:45. Less than an hour later I was standing in line with the 12 others who joined the church with me, waiting to receive the bread and the wine.
But what touched me yesterday wasn’t just the 13 new members, the crowds of people who filled our sanctuary with life and light, or even Presbyterians throughout the USA; it was the idea that – at the heart of what it means to be a Follower of Jesus – each one of us is in exactly the same place (Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Disciples of Christ, MCC, Episcopalians, Pentecostals and more…), sinners approaching the table of grace with humble and grateful hearts.
If we can only remember that, and love one another in the spirit of thankfulness and joy…?
(Click to make images large)