This Sunday -- World Communion Sunday -- is one of my favorites in the whole church year. As you know, my life journey has taken me around the world to homes in southern Africa, south Asia, and North America and to visit my parents' homes in Great Britain and Australia. In each place, I have been blessed to be part of religious communities and to celebrate communion -- the sacred meal that reminds us that we are part of Christ's body, that we are connected in love to all God's people across distance and time.
The story we most often tell at the communion table is the story of Jesus and his disciples sharing his last meal -- the breaking and blessing of bread, the sharing of a the cup, the words "This is my body" and "This is my blood." But there are other stories of communion in scripture -- the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6. The breaking of bread after the journey to Emmaus in Luke 24. A fish breakfast on the beach in John 21. And of course all the stories of Jesus eating with sinners , Jesus eating on the Sabbath, Jesus turning water into wine and so on.
Again and again Jesus uses food to show us that God wants to provide for us. God intends for all to be included, fed, and filled. He demonstrates that all are welcome at God's table (and all means all). Jesus's actions show that relationship and justice are always more important than religious or political rules, purity, common practice, popularity or polity. And in that Last Supper, Jesus reminds us that suffering is part of life, that death must always precede resurrection and that we are, indeed, one in the Spirit, one in Christ's body.
This Sunday, we will hear four stories from around the world. They are told from the perspective of Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples of Christ) missionaries. These missionaries have spent time serving in other countries not to convert people but to accompany them, to share in their struggles and suffering as well as in their triumphs, transformation and celebrations. These missionaries discovered, as my parents did, that most of the time they learned far more than they could ever teach. They received far more hospitality, grace and love than they could ever share.
Sunday's stories offer us some of their learnings, some of the gifts and graces they received. They remind us of the suffering and the celebration of being One in Christ.
You are invited for Sunday's service to be intentional about the bread/starch that you bring. This may be a way to connect with your own cultural heritage, or to reconnect with a culture you have lived in or been touched by. Mya and Jeslyn Haux will read one of our stories on Sunday and they will present Pan de Sal (Filippino Bread Roll). Emma and Chloe Ogle, John and Sheryl McCoy and Heather Jackson will also be presenting stories from our missionaries. I will not be sharing a story, but I am going to make Nepali Roti to honor my Nepali host family and friends. You can find recipes for Pan de Sal and Roti HERE.
If you make a special bread/starch (could be noodles, rice, tortillas, cake, buns, etc.) for Sunday and want to share that recipe with us, please simply email it to me and I will include it in Sunday's email.
In this time of such division, what a gift to be reminded that we are part of one body and one people -- Christ's body and God's people. This is our primary identity, an identity that calls us to love, truth, courage and justice.
I look forward to *seeing* you on Sunday!
With love and peace,