World Communion Day
World Communion Day will always have a special place in my life. Partly because I experience ever-greater meaning in this act of worship through my years of ministry. And partly because it marks the anniversary of my first Sunday of my unexpected appointment at Christ Church in Bethel Park, PA on October 1, 1980—where Elaine and I will worship this Sunday.
Formerly call “World-Wide Communion Sunday,” the name changed to drop the “Wide” in 1971. The day was originally a Presbyterian observance. But it became global in 1940. In 1944, an offering was added to the observance to benefit racial and ethnic minority students pursuing various avenues of ministry.
World Communion Day calls the church to be a catholic inclusive church.
The act of coming forward reminds us that we stand in a long line of believers that circles the Globe. And we all come because Jesus bids us do so.
Sometimes, we kneel. Sometimes we remain kneeling for prayer after receiving. Sometimes we stand. Sometimes we receive as we pass by the minister or celebrants. Sometimes we pass the elements through the congregation and all receive at the same moment.
Sometimes, we use extensive liturgy and song. Sometimes, the liturgy is fairly brief. Sometimes liturgy is scarcely more than an invitation and a prayer of consecration. Tastes for liturgy and formality vary. And that is OK with me.
Over the years of my years of ministry, I have known people who “stay away” on World Communion Sunday. Excuses vary:
- The service is too long.
- The sermon is too short.
- The liturgy is too old-fashioned.
- Or—for me—the strangest excuse of all --I am not worthy to receive communion.
attentively to the hymns and the words of the liturgy. Be mindful of just how ancient and contemporary this simple act may be. Remember that Christians have been “doing this in remembrance” for over 2000 years. Experience yourself in an endless line of those who have said, “Yes” to the invitation of Jesus.
In many places and at varying times of this day, we will draw strength from the bread and cup, affirm the church in our time, and acknowledge the Head of the church for all time.
Read more about the United Methodist understanding of Communion.
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