Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

World Communion Sunday


Have you ever noticed how many churches there are? We have churches are everywhere. Some are big; some are small. Some ring church bells; some have stained-glass windows; some have plain windows. Some have early services; some have evening services, some have midweek services. In some churches, the people kneel; in some, the people stand. Some churches do mission trips far away; and some do service projects in their neighborhoods. Some have beautiful pianos and organs and some sing with no music at all. Some sing great beautiful hymns and some sing only Psalms and some have no music at all. There are many different churches because there are many different people. And when we visit another church, they aren’t doing things wrong; they are just doing things differently.
And while each church does worship differently, today, churches in our town, across our country, and around the world, are doing one thing in particular the same. Today is World Communion Sunday. This means that churches around the world are participating in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
Here again we find so much difference. Even the name of this act we do in common is often different. Some say we are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, many will call it The Eucharist - which is a word meaning “Thanksgiving”. Others simply call it communion and in some traditions the phrase used for this meal is “The Love Feast”. Some call it the Table of the Lord.
And as varied as the name is the procedure gone through to participate in this meal. Some traditions come forward and kneel at a rail and are served the bread and drink out of a common cup. Others remain in their seat and are served with small cups and cubes of bread or wafers. In small churches the common cup and bread were passed through the congregation by the congregation itself. Some will come forward and break bread and dip it in a cup. In some traditions this meal is celebrated as part of a cover dish meal as it was in the New Testament church. And there are some churches that always have a foot washing as part of communion since the night of the first Lord’s Supper Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.
Today, there will be churches around the world who will be celebrating this meal in their own way in a sanctuary like ours, or in a school gym, or a even in a grass hut in the middle of a forest or a tent in the desert.
And then we get into the differences in how people view even the bread and the drink. There are those that insist that wine be used because that is what Jesus would have used. Our tradition simply states that the bread and drink be from something we can grow locally. Some believe that upon blessing the bread and drink they transform into the actual blood and flesh of Jesus and some believe that this bread and juice are just used as a memorial to the acts of Jesus and a re-enactment of the original Last Supper. We believe that there is a spiritual transformation involved in what we do.
The Apostle Paul in discussing the differences of opinion in the church back in the first century where there were already varied opinions of how things should be done wrote this concerning our different views of practices in the church: These words are from Romans 14:

14 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.
Paul is helping us to see that regardless of our differences we need to keep our focus on Christ and on living in gratitude for what he has done for us and everything else is just tradition and helps to define us as a community of faith.
In 1936 the Presbyterian Church celebrated a special Sunday called World Wide Communion Sunday for the first time. At this time is was something done denominationally around the world to remember their togetherness in all the churches of the world. In 1940, the practice was picked up by the National Council of Churches which encouraged all the member denominations around the world to share in communion on the first Sunday in October.
This Sunday is a call for all followers of Christ, of whatever background and whatever theological tradition to remember that we are all one in Jesus Christ - that the table we receive from is not our table, but the table of Jesus Christ. We do what Jesus calls all his followers to do - to eat his flesh and drink his blood and receive his spirit. One Sunday a year we can put all our differences aside and remember that in Jesus Christ we are all one.
Today, through World Communion Sunday, we are also celebrating that though each church does things differently, we each and all of us need God and His grace. By participating together around the world in Holy Communion, we celebrate our common need for God, and together we celebrate receiving His love and grace through this meal.
There are many different people. There are many different churches. There are many different ways of worshipping and serving God. But in the end, we all need God and we all are God’s children. Today we celebrate that we are all different in our work and worship of God, yet we are the same. in Jesus Christ.
Will you pray with me?
(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)
Dear Lord, (pause)
We are each different (pause) but we each need You.(pause) We are each different (pause). but we are each Your children. (pause)
Thank You (pause) for loving us the same (pause) each and all.(pause) Amen