And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:24-26 NRSV
This Sunday, October 4, we will celebrate World Communion Sunday in both our 9:45 and 11:15 services. World Communion Sunday is a day when we celebrate together, worldwide, the breaking of the bread and the sharing in the cup. We share communion as one, yet even though we are scattered, we are one in Christ. We are the church Universal. When we share communion, we remember what Christ has done for us. That he shed his blood for us, to take away the punishment of our sins, so that we may be forgiven of our sins through the cross of Jesus. It is an act of worship that brings us together; the faithful and those who are seeking the grace of God in their lives. It is an act of unity, bringing a community together.
Yet World Communion Sunday presents some challenges this year. Communion is meant to be shared together, as we all gather at the altar. This is not possible this year. Some will be at home with their families, gathered in groups, or alone. Some will be gathered in the sanctuary, yet not able to come to the rail for the elements. In actuality, we will not be one.
Plus, this year, it is more apparent than ever that we are not one. Unity is so desired in our world today. This is what is so powerful about Holy Communion. For that one moment as we share in this act, we push our differences aside. We share in the one cup and the one bread, if not physically, but symbolically. Only through the grace and saving work of Christ could unity be possible. We lay aside our grievances and disagreements to remember and honor the only hope in our lives that could bring us back together.
“Places in the Heart” was an Academy Award-winning film that starred Sally Fields as a young woman, widowed within the first few minutes of the film—her husband accidentally shot by a reckless and foolish young man. She struggles against life and the powers of corruption in everyday life of central Texas during the 1930s. Forces work to try to take away the only thing her husband has left her and her family, a small farm in Texas. Lynching, brutality, infidelity, racism, greed, hypocrisy are all woven into the lives of those who make up this story.
What was so powerful about this movie is the ending. The movie concludes with a communion service; a dream-like fantasy that ties up all the loose ends of these desperate circumstances portrayed in the movie. At first the camera shows you a few of the good folk in town. Next, some of the not-so-good. Then the banker and others who conspired to take away the farm. The camera continues to move with the cups of wine. There is the faithful black farmhand who helped bring in the crop so the widow might pay her mortgage. The plate passes to the children, then to their mother. She is seated next to her late husband. As you are trying to take this in, the plate moves to the young man who shot her husband. They commune, and each respond: "the peace of God." All are gathered at the table to share
the bread and cup of salvation. Suddenly this is more than Sunday morning; this is the kingdom, a glimpse of eternity captured in time.
This visual gives us a look at life, the way God looks at it. God has done something to enable everyone to break bread together and share in the cup. God was in Christ, bringing reconciliation to all. This is what we celebrate, this is what happens when we pass the bread and the cup.
Rev. Gary Rideout