World Communion 2016

Sunday is World Communion Sunday. Churches of many different denominations from all over the globe will celebrate the oneness in Christ they share with all our brothers and sisters around the world. While we emphasize unity on this particular Sunday, we must remain mindful that our relationship to all our brothers and sisters in Christ is a central focus every time we celebrate the sacrament. We never celebrate communion in a vacuum, but always receive the elements of communion in the context of joining believers from every time and every place.

The idea of oneness and unity is especially poignant to me this year. I hear so much about division, which does not surprise me in a presidential election year. However, I cannot help but think that at least some of the division is caused by the fact that it seems like our differences are all we hear about. It makes me wonder what might happen if we started talking more about our connectedness. I am a firm believer in the idea that there is more that connects us than divides us. The Bible teaches us this is true by affirming the sufficiency of Christ – he alone is strong enough to connect us. Christ is the glue that keeps us together, and while different issues might stretch us, even to the point of being uncomfortable, we can never do anything to sever the bond between us that is Christ Jesus.

This belief has practical implications both locally and globally. If we as individuals choose to talk about our oneness, in spite of our differences, we can change the discourse around us. When we hear people talk about how divided people are, we can talk about the fact that in the church, while we might have different opinions and beliefs, we can still come together and share in fellowship and the breaking of bread, and even, daresay, love one another. We have the power to speak truth to the lies that perpetuate the idea that we are a disconnected people. The more we talk about our connection in Christ, the further the impact can reach. In a world where we mark such deplorable milestones as 65 million refugees worldwide, our emphasis on unity can have a real effect on people’s lives.

In doing this, we answer a prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17. In that prayer, Jesus asks God to make those who believe in him, “completely one.” The reason Jesus wants us to be completely one is so that the world may see us and believe that Jesus is God’s son, and that God loves us. That can be the impact of us showing the world that, in spite of messages of division, unity is not only possible, but it is indeed alive and well.