"World Communion Sunday"
The First United Presbyterian Church
“World Communion Sunday”
Rev. Amy Morgan
October 4, 2020
Luke 14:16 – 24
16 Then Jesus said to him, "Someone gave a great dinner and invited many.
17 At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now.'
18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.'
19 Another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.'
20 Another said, 'I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.'
21 So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.'
22 And the slave said, 'Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.'
23 Then the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.
24 For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.'"
Today, we celebrate World Communion Sunday, recognizing our unity in Christ with all God’s children around the world. The idea for World Communion Sunday came out of the Presbyterian church in the early 1930’s, but it didn’t gain wide adoption until the second World War, when, as the Rev. Dr. Donald Kerr said, “we were trying to hold the world together. World Wide Communion symbolized the effort to hold things together, in a spiritual sense. It emphasized that we are one in the Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In these challenging and divisive times, World Communion Sunday is a gift that we give, not just to ourselves as Christians, but to the whole world. It is a witness that God’s love, the peace of Jesus Christ, and the unity of the Holy Spirit can and will overcome any division and conflict the world can dish up. What is served at this table is nothing less than the reign of God on earth, a new creation.
In that spirit, I’ve invited a couple of my friends from different parts of the world to speak to us today.
The first is a friend of mine from seminary, the Rev. Cathy Chang. I’ll let Cathy and her family introduce themselves, and then they will share a little bit about their ministry and what World Communion Sunday means to them.
Wilian Cen-Colli is the director of Yucatan Peninsula Mission in Mexico, and he’s been a friend to our family for more than a dozen years. Several members of our church got to know Wilian and his wife, Erly, and partner in ministry with YPM when we went on our mission trip a few years ago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially devastating in Mexico, with the death rate around 10% in some parts of the country, including the Yucatan. YPM’s university has lost two students to the virus. And the economic impact has been particularly challenging for the small villages YPM serves. Wilian and Erly, along with dozens of volunteers, have provided food and other essentials to households throughout the region through this pandemic. They will soon open a water filtration operation to provide safe, clean drinking water to the area they serve.
The mission of YPM has been close to my heart for many years. And so on this World Communion Sunday, I asked Wilian, who is also an ordained Presbyterian minister, to share with us his thoughts about the Lord’s Supper.
A traditional invitation to the Lord’s Supper that I used for a long time includes the phrase, “Christ invites those who trust in him to come and be nourished.” This is that faith in Jesus Christ that Wilian spoke of that binds us together in the covenant between God and humanity.
But through my years in ministry, I’ve come to experience Christ’s invitation as much wider than that. In that same invitation, we remember the story of the road to Emmaus, where Jesus breaks bread with these two disciples who have lost trust in Jesus, who feel disappointed in him and confused.
Our scripture today illustrates Christ’s expansive invitation, reaching out to uninvited guests because the ones who were invited declined to attend. Communion is a meal set not just for the worthy, the righteous, the VIPs. It is a table that welcomes the injured and the outcast, the broken and the needy. But not just them. The welcome goes on and on and on until the table is filled. And when we’re talking about God’s table, we talking about infinite space, right? The invitation to the table of our Lord never ends.
This is a table for believers and skeptics. Jesus invites everyone. And that is such a radical notion. In these divided times, we come to this table, joining with Christians in all times and all places, to share in this meal. The people who come because they are on fire for the Lord and full of self-righteous judgment. And the people who are confused or disappointed and aren’t sure what they can trust anymore. All those people are invited to gather here, and side-by-side, to eat and drink and be nourished.
But trust is still required. Maybe not trust that we know what is right or what we’re doing. Maybe not trust that we know what we believe. But trust that God is here. That Jesus is present. And that the Holy Spirit can bind us together and make us one. Trust isn’t certainty. It’s far from it. Trust is hope. Even if it is frail and weak.
Maybe in trusting God, even just a little, we can learn to trust one another again. We can hope for a world of peace and unity. And we can, as Rev. Jacqui Lewis says, “rehearse the reign of God” at this table. Amen.