Thursday, October 02, 2008

World Communion Sunday October 5

Can you believe it is OCTOBER?? I can't. Where did September go?
The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday. You can read a little history of the event here. Of course, the biggest point of World Communion Sunday is the WORLD part: the unity of all believers all around the world sharing in the same observance--the same body of Christ. But I also like to emphasize the COMMUNION part. I believe that Holy Communion is not understood and is generally under-appreciated. That is why I take World Communion Sunday to talk about the importance and meaning of communion. Just as Christians have different views on baptism, so there are many different views on communion. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters celebrate the Mass, and believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. Our non-sacramental, evangelical brothers and sisters believe it is an ordinance--simply something we are commanded to do--so we do it. Some also believe it is a memorial to Jesus. But most evangelicals believe that communion is completely symbolic. If it has an spiritual significance, it is all due to your attitude, your receptivity to God.
The United Methodist understanding of communion is officially stated in This Holy Mystery, a document adopted at the 2004 General Conference. Although there is a lot to say about communion, I will stop with saying that in the UMC, communion is a sacrament (see Article 16 here). That is to say that communion is a means of grace. God does something during communion, not just us. It is not just us taking the bread and the cup--that is a minor part--but God is with us and is working his grace in us in communion. That is what it means to have a sacramental view of communion. In other words, if one person comes to communion not interested and zoned out like a zombie, and another person comes to communion spiritually alert and with a heart of prayer, God's grace comes to both of them. Obviously the latter person will feel a more meaningful experience than the church zombie.
I think communion is VERY IMPORTANT. You will hear 6 things that I think communion means to us as Christians on Sunday. The worship bulletin is here.
And remember, Jesus instituted communion or the Lord's Supper during the observance of the Jewish Passover meal. How does the significance of the Passover to the Jewish disciples inform what Jesus was presenting with communion?
Interesting stuff to think about !