A liturgical tradition that I’ve come to love and deeply appreciate is that of World Communion Sunday, where Christians from all around the world share in the bread and cup together as an act of unity and mutual love. Begun in 1933 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Rev. Hugh Thomas Kerr, World Communion Sunday emerged in a cultural moment where “the prevailing mood of the world was anxiety—fear about economics, fear about politics and fear about the future.” In the midst of that moment arose an earnest desire for unity: “when we all share the Meal where Christ is our Host, we are connected in ways that go beyond our personal preferences, or theological scuffles, as well as transcending boundaries of geography and language.”
You and I both know that the cultural moment in which World Communion Sunday began could very easily describe the moment in which we find ourselves today. Each day, each notification, each scrolling newsreel on our screens trumpets a world where the pace of change is dizzying, the stories of injustice angering, the images of devastation grieving. Like allergens or pollution in the air we breathe, anxiety has a way of creeping in unnoticed, silently infusing our minds and communities with fear that leaves us asthmatic and hurting. Our own life together as a church can even feel anxiety-ridden these days, as we stand at the precipice of seismic change within the institution we love so dearly.
Into such an environment, worship becomes for us the steadying force that quietly and firmly orients our individual and communal lives. Like leaven or yeast in the bread we eat, worship has a way of catalyzing us unnoticed, steadily creating a climate in which we we all shall rise. This Sunday, we gather at the Table of Love, with sisters and brothers around the world of every shade and size, origin and orientation, language and life, to remember and tell again the old, old story of the One who came that we may have life, and have it with such abundance.
That same spirit will send us forth “into the worship that is our very lives.” And it will invite some of us back on Wednesday at our first “Common Table” gathering! The premise is simple: a casual, informal, brown bag lunch; an hour and a space where all are welcome; a conversation that matters; and a common table around which to share in this abundance! I’ll ‘host’ this first Common Table hour-long gathering on Wednesday, and we’ll explore the topic I’m calling “Separated?: How Churches and Christians Should Engage in the Public Sphere.” Read more about Common Table in today’s eBlast, grab a friend, and come on!
For into the world of fear, our worship and fellowship nourishes us with an ordinary meal and a divine Spirit that tastes to all tongues of resurrection!
Together in the work of Love,