The first Sunday of October is World Communion Sunday. Around the world Christians from hundreds of different traditions gather around the Lord’s table, break bread and share the cup of God’s grace. As is our custom, we will hear the Prayer of Thanksgiving in a variety of languages and share bread from a number of different cultures. World Communion Sunday reminds us of the unity we share with God’s people everywhere. In a world of many divisions it is a sign of community and hope.
Of course for some churches, communion is a weekly event. In the early years of the Methodist Church the practice of monthly, or even quarterly communion developed. That was mostly because clergy were in short supply. There just weren’t enough ministers to cover every church on a weekly basis. So communion was celebrated when they could get there. That’s not really true today, but the tradition continues. Churches are good at tradition!
For some years our tradition at communion has been for those coming forward to take a piece from the broken loaf. At times that seems more difficult for some. Tearing a piece of bread that is large enough to dip into the cup, but small enough to handle gracefully, is not always easy. We also welcome children to communion – I believe it was Jesus who said something about “let them come unto me.” At times they have a harder time with the bread as well.
So I have been thinking for some time about this, and talking about it with the Worship Committee as well. Our current thought is to try something different not this coming Sunday, but on the first Sunday of November. Rather than everyone tearing their own piece from the loaf, Doug and I will do so for each person who comes forward.
We hope that it will help us to receive this sign of God’s grace with greater ease and simplicity. We believe that having fewer persons handling the loaf itself will help those with hygiene concerns to be more at ease during communion. Doug and I already wash our hands before each service, and will also use a hand wipe at the table before serving others.
I don’t really like making changes for the sake of change. So I hope you will let me know your best thoughts on it as we move through the end of the year. As we approach 2015 we will decide whether or not it’s a helpful change going forward.
Communion is one of the central acts of Christian worship. Though our celebration has varied widely over the centuries, it invites us back to the night of Jesus’ Last Supper. We remember the sacrificial love of Christ which was shown that night. But communion is not only a celebration of something in the distant past. It also looks forward to the feast prepared for all people when God brings us together at last. On World Communion Sunday, we get to taste of what that will look like. See you at church!
Grace and peace,