- Edwin Markham
“Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us”… God created humanity in God’s own image… male and female God created them. …There was evening and there was morning: the sixth day.
- Genesis 1.26f. (edited)
World Communion is always a sweet experience for me. The very thought of sharing communion with Christians around the globe thrills me. The fact that it may be celebrated with coconut milk, wine, nut beer, or stale Diet Pepsi makes no difference; the fact that it may be celebrated in a somber manner or with vibrant dancing makes no difference; and the fact that it may be celebrated in church, under a tree, or hidden from the view of predators makes no difference. When we gather at God’s Table, in both act and intention we are one. We dip, eat, remember, and believe.
The celebration of World Communion is way sweet! But, to be honest, it has a touch of bitterness as well; at least for me. World Communion is bittersweet for me in at least two ways. Firstly, the unity we celebrate in ritual form doesn’t translate into actual unity. The ideal of Christian unity is just that… an ideal; it is a fervent yearning nestled deep in God’s heart. From worship wars to doctrinal disputes to the rejection of heretics (whatever that means) to divisions over social issues; there is little that resembles unity among Christians. We play games with the circles we draw, seems we're persnickety about whom we admit. In the face of this reality, I pledge each year that I will refuse to be a part of the problem. I refuse to withhold fellowship from those who differ from me in the expression of faith; I refuse to withhold fellowship from those who differ from me in their reading of the biblical tradition; and I refuse to withhold fellowship from those of a different social or political stripe. Only with this attitude can I approach in good conscience the celebration of World Communion.
Secondly, World Communion is bittersweet for me because it excludes, rejects, ignores, or condescends to God’s other Children (the title of an excellent book by Bradley Malkovsky). Be they Hindu, Muslim, Agnostic …whatever; in my humble opinion their spirit is marked indelibly with that divine image mentioned in Genesis 1. Is there no unity we can recognize or pursue with them? My all time favorite World Communion memory is of the year my congregation celebrated communion under the sukkah of peace (a shelter erected during Jewish Sukkoth, which fell at the same time), accompanied by friends from the Temple that was nested in our church. I felt the presence of God in an intense manner that day; I felt spiritually clean, if that makes any sense; and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I recognized that day a yearning nestled deep in my heart; a prayer for the day God will spoil our circle games and bring such unity to fruition. Will you pray with me?