Worship Elements, World Communion Sunday

This morning, we celebrated World Communion Sunday with congregations across the world.  Each year on the first Sunday of October, Christians of all denominations, backgrounds, and cultures,  set aside differences and together celebrate the things we cherish in common: the call of Jesus to love God and one another.

Central to our worship, liturgy, and conversation today were the images of bread and cup. Continuing our series on Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of God,  we explored this parable:

Matthew 13:3

    He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

as well as this teaching from Paul’s letter to the Galatian church:

Galatians 5:22-27

   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

 

This was our Call to Worship:

This is the day that that Lord has made! 

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

We gather as one Body,

we gather for worship, fellowship, and celebration!

We are united, always, with brothers and sisters in Christ

across the world,  across the pages of Scripture, across the passing of time.

We gather for worship, fellowship, and celebration.

We gather in the name of Jesus.

We gather for story and song, for prayer and praise, for bread and cup.

We gather as one Body, together building the kingdom of God.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a great vineyard, that he is the vine, and we are the branches.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like leaven, like yeast in bread, living, active, transforming everything.

Like the stretching of branches across the vineyard, let us bear fruit!

Like the baking of bread, let faith arise!

+++

We then sang I Lift My Hands by Chris Tomlin, with the uplifting refrain “Let faith arise, Let faith arise!”  We continued this theme in the Children’s Chat and during Kid’s Table, our youngsters made salt-dough creations to share with our shut-ins.

Our Communion liturgy was adapted from the United Church of Christ Book of Worship, using elements below followed by prayer and the blessing and sharing of the elements.

Merciful God, we know that you love us and that you call us to fullness of life, but around us and within us we see the brokenness of the world and of our ways.  Our successes leave us empty; our progress does not satisfy.  Our prosperous land is not the promised land of our longing.  Forgive our willful neglect of your world, our insensitivity to the needs of others, and our failure to feed the spirt that is within us, the Spirit of Christ Jesus, and through Jesus our Redeemer we pray, Amen.       

Beloved, we are beloved by God. Fashioned in God’s image, forgiven through God’s grace, free in the way of Jesus. Amen!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Jesus said:  I am the bread of life.  You who come to me will not hunger; you who believe in me shall never thirst.  Luke, the evangelist, wrote of our risen Savior, who at the table with two disciples took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  Their eyes were opened, and they recognized the risen Christ in the breaking and sharing of bread.

In company with all who hunger for spiritual food, we come to this table. In company with all believers in every time and beyond time, we come to know the risen Christ in the breaking and sharing of bread.

God be with you!

And also with you!

Lift up your hearts!

We lift them up to God!                                                                   

Let us give thanks to God.

It is right to give God thanks and praise.

+++

We prayed together, sang together, and shared the bread and cup.  We reflected on the connections between the kingdom of God being like yeast in dough to the imagery of Jesus as the Bread of Life and the breaking of bread in Communion. We talked about connections between the cup of Communion and the image of the kingdom of God as a vineyard, each of us branches drawing sustenance from Jesus, the vine.

If you couldn’t join us this week, please make plans to be with us soon.  We’ll continue our series on the parables Jesus told about the kingdom of God for the next two weeks, with a special focus on the parables of planting, harvesting agriculture on October 15, our Harvest Home Celebration.

See you in church and in the community!

-Pastor Chris

What is World Communion Sunday:

This Sunday, October 1, 2017, Christ’s Church at Lowhill will join with thousands of Cristian congregations around the globe in celebration of World Communion Sunday.

So what is World Communion Sunday?

 When I need to cut to the core of something, I tend go right to Wikipedia. It’s usually where Google sends me anyway.  According to the editors of the internet’s most popular encyclopedia:
World Communion Sunday is a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, taking place on the first Sunday of every October, that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation.[1] It focuses on an observance of the eucharist.

 

The tradition was begun in 1934 by Hugh Thomson Kerr who ministered in the Shadyside Presbyterian Church. “Davitt S. Bell (the late Clerk of Session and church historian at Shadyside) recalled that Dr. Kerr first conceived the notion of World Communion Sunday during his year as moderator of the General Assembly (1930). Dr. Kerr’s younger son, the Rev. Dr. Donald Craig Kerr, who is pastor emeritus of the Roland Park Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, was sixteen in 1933. He has related that World Communion Sunday grew out of the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. It was their attempt to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity—in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another.”[2] It was then was adopted throughout the US Presbyterian Church in 1936,[1] and subsequently spread to other denominations. In 1940, the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches), led by Jesse Moren Bader, endorsed World Communion Sunday and began to promote it to Christian churches worldwide.

It’s important to note that even though different Christian denominations have different practices and beliefs regarding Communion, or that practices and beliefs often differ from church to church even within the same denomination, World Communion Sunday celebrates what unites us.

Ian Doescher puts it this way:

“The key words for World Communion Sunday are togetherness and unity.  It is a day when we mark the almost universal Christian practice of breaking bread with one another and remembering both the night of Jesus’ betrayal—when Jesus instituted what we now call the Lord’s Supper as a lasting remembrance—and of Jesus’ sacrifice.  World Communion Sunday is a time for remembering that around the globe—in different languages, with different traditions and customs, and in various forms of liturgy—the Lord’s Supper is celebrated throughout Christendom.  At its best, therefore, World Communion Sunday serves two purposes: it is both a joyous and meaningful partaking in Jesus’ sacred meal with his friends and a mind-opening exposure to different Christian traditions from around the world.”

At Lowhill, the Communion table is open.  As the liturgy says, come, for all things are ready.  Let us share the bread and cup with one another and the world!

See you Sunday!

– Pastor Chris