World Communion Sunday was first observed in 1933 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in
Pittsburgh, PA. It was officially adopted by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1936 and by
1940 had begun to spread to other denominations. Today, more than 40 denominations observe
World Communion Sunday on the first Sunday of October each year, representing Christians
from every corner of the globe. That means that nearly a billion people will celebrate this
tradition with us this Sunday. Disciples.org defines World Communion Sunday as a “worldwide
opportunity for Christians in every culture to break bread and share the cup as they affirm
Christ as the head of the Church.” This is a time when Christians all over the world
acknowledge that we are united by Christ as the head of the Church and our Lord and Savior.
Minister Billie is going to expand upon this in her sermon on Sunday, so I don’t want to give
too much away today, but I do want to take a moment to reflect upon what it really means to
come together in communion.
As members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), we believe very strongly in the
significance of communion; so much so that the official logo of our denomination is a chalice,
and the publishing company for many Disciples materials is called Chalice Press. We are also
one of the few denominations that partake in the sacrament of Communion every week. So,
when we hear the word “communion,” we automatically think of the Eucharist, the Lord’s
Supper, and we can recite the words “do this in remembrance of me” before we even really
understand what they mean. As adolescents and adults, we begin to understand the symbolism
more fully, that as we take the bread and wine (or juice), we are taking in Christ Himself,
reminding ourselves each week that it is Christ’s love which fills us spiritually and nourishes
our souls, giving us the energy we need to do His work in the world. But I think there is another
aspect of communion that we sometimes forget about.
If you search Webster’s Dictionary for “communion,” the first definition you find is “an act
or instance of sharing.” The next definition describes the sacrament of Communion. Following
that, though, we get the definition “an intimate fellowship or rapport.” These definitions remind
us that while communion is intensely personal as we grow our relationship with Christ, it is also
an intimate fellowship, an act of sharing with our Christian brothers and sisters, not just in the
pews next to us, but all over the city, state, country, and world. While we may have
irreconcilable differences with the members of the churches down the street from us, or we may
not even speak the same language of those celebrating across the world, we are still in
fellowship with them; in communion with them.
The early Christian church often called the celebration of communion “agape.” This is a word
you have probably heard before, and a word that I have spoken about in sermons. As a
reminder, this word predominantly means “love,” specifically, an unconditional love like the
love between a parent and child. So, remember when we gather at the Table this Sunday with
Christians from across the globe, we are gathering in communion; in an act of sharing; in
intense fellowship; and, most importantly, in love.
Loving God, as You made Your love known in a single human life, lived for others and laid
down, help us to meet Christ and greet Him in every human face, to worship and serve Him in
every human need, until with Him and every man and woman born into the world we share with
You the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
In Fellowship and Love,
Minister Logan J. Smith