World Communion Sunday

October 2, 2022

Suitable Texts

Scriptures abound that lend themselves to World Communion reflection. Examples:

Isaiah 56.3-8. “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

1 Corinthians 12.12-27. You are the Body of Christ

John 17.20-23. “That they all may be one.”

Preaching Thoughts

It seems paradoxical to preach that in the Eucharist we are in communion with all Christians around the world when Communion itself is among the things that divide us. I usually insist on respecting multiple interpretations and traditions, but here’s a place where I’ll step out and say the traditional Roman Catholic teaching is just plain wrong. Jesus clearly shared food with everybody—sometimes 5000 at a time—including believers and unbelievers, clean and unclean, righteous and sinners, Jews and gentiles. It’s just plain wrong to insist that one must belong to a certain sect (yes, all denominations are sects) to partake of the Eucharist. I see no biblical warrant for it, but exceeding evidence to the contrary. Paul says, “All who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves.” This is often interpreted to mean you’re supposed to see the physical flesh of Jesus in the bread and wine. But in the context of everything Paul is talking about, that is, the church, I think he means discerning the body of Christ—the community, the whole. The bread, and the complete self-giving it symbolizes, lead us to be mindful of the whole human community Jesus died for, including people of every tradition, denomination, sect, religion, belief system or unbelief. I think central to Jesus’ and Paul’s gospel is the radical inclusiveness of God’s love and the profound oneness of the human family.

Psalm 137 is the lectionary psalm of the day. Our discomfort with the violence of the psalm’s passion invites us to look at our discomfort with the suffering of others, especially those we don’t identify with. (We white folks seem more deeply touched by the plight of white Ukrainians than that of Asian Uyghurs or Rohingya.) World Communion Sunday, celebrating our unity in Christ, invites us to enter into the suffering of others, even foreigners, even enemies, because they too are our kin, members of our own body. This is the meaning of taking up the cross: to enter into the suffering of the world.

Call to Worship

Leader: Creator God, Mother and Father of us all, your children worship you.
All: People of every tribe, nation, language and culture praise you!
Risen Christ, your sisters and brothers around the world give thanks to you.
People of every kind and status, in every hut and cathedral sing to you!
Holy Spirit, you make us one, the Body of Christ, throughout the World.
Loving Christ, we come to your table to be together with our sisters and brothers.
May there be unity among us. May we be one in the love and faith of Christ,
one in the Spirit, and one in ministry to all the world, to the glory of God. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator of the universe,
All: you bring forth all Creation, and we belong.
You give birth to all peoples;
you create one human family, and we belong.
You feed us with your love;
you make of us one Body in your Spirit, and we belong.
So we come, people of every race and nation and tribe and people,
to worship together and to feast on your love. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator of all things,
       All: we praise!
Of earth and sky, the seas and stars, and all living beings,
       we praise!
Loving Mother and Father of all people, nations and races,
       we adore!
You whose arms hold Koreans and Bolivians, Rwandans and Inuit,
       we adore!
For Baptist and Orthodox, Methodist and Moravian, Congregational and Coptic,
       we give thanks!
With all your Beloved we gather at your table to feast with our siblings in Christ,
one in the Body of Christ, one in your love.
       We worship, we receive your grace, and we give of ourselves, for the sake of the world.

Leader: Glory be to you, O God of all Creation.
All: Thanks be to you, O Christ, for our salvation.
You have saved the people of all nations and races!
People of every color and heritage praise you in every language.
Gather us as one family at your table, Love;
in your Spirit, make us one.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
You alone are holy, and we worship you.
You gather us as one people around the world:
one in Christ, one in your Spirit,and one in our worship of you.
We give thanks for the gathered community,
and for your presence among us!
Alleluia! Make us one, God! Make us one! Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of love, like a loving mother who has prepared a wonderful meal, you call all of your children to your table, to share together, to be at peace with each other, to tell our stories, to nourish one another, and most of all to feast on your grace. Feed us with your Word, that we may truly be children of God. Amen.
God of all Creation, we gather at your table with your children of every nation. We thank you for your loving presence, for your Church across the globe and for the Spirit that unites us. As we listen, our sisters and brothers around the world are listening in uncounted languages. May we all hear your Word, hear your love, in the Spirit of Christ. Make us one, Love; make us one. Amen.

God of love, like a loving mother who has prepared a wonderful meal, you call all of your children to your table, to share together, to be at peace with each other, to tell our stories, to nourish one another, and most of all to feast on your grace. Feed us with your Word, that we may truly be children of God. Amen.4.
God of love, your children around the world are listening to you now in many languages. Speak to us in truth that is deeper than words, in presence that is deeper than what can be seen, in love that is deeper than understanding. In scripture, in proclamation, in prayer—speak to us as you do to all your Beloved, from within Amen.

Gracious God, at this moment, Christians around the world are gathered at this very table. We are among sisters and brothers in every land. Open our hearts and minds to your presence in the Body of Christ around the world. Help us to hear, to belong, and to gather others to your table. Speak to us: we are your children, and we are listening. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

God, we give thanks
for the diversity and unity of the human family,
and for your grace in the ways ways we honor that gift.
And we confess the ways we resist our unity,
resist our diversity, judge those who are not like us,
and ignore our siblings.
Heal our fear, forgive our sin,
and renew in us your loving Spirit.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

Holy God, we are one in your love, and we thank you.
It is not our beliefs or our faith that unite us,
but your love for us all that makes us one.
Those who are like us and those who are different,
all are beloved and all are made one.
People of every continent and every race,
all join us at the table of your grace.
Humans and creatures and all living things
are one in the Body of Christ.
For the great diversity of people,
for the splendor of life in all its colors,
we praise you.
Gracious God, in your grace we are one,
and we worship you.
We are yours, and we serve you. Alleluia!

     We give our hearts to God, Creator of all people, Mother and Father of us all.
     We follow Jesus Christ, who embodied God’s infinite love for insiders and outsiders, and who created a community of love, not doctrine. In his Spirit we are are all one Body, members of one another. In his death and resurrection we witness the triumph of divine love over human divisions. In the breaking of bread together we celebrate the wondrous diversity of the Body of Christ, and we enact his vision of our unity and our companionship.
     We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s love in us, moving in us as a body, the orchestra of God, whose music is most beautiful when we are in harmony with each other. By that spirit we seek healing and justice for the whole human family and all Creation.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Holy One,
we are most holy when we are in you,
not cut off by ourselves.
Bring us into unity with you
and the whole Body of Christ,
that we may hear your Word
and live in your love.

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all things,
ruler of the world and all that is to come.
By your Word you have created all people in your image.
Though we have all gone astray, each on our separate way,
you have freed us from bondage;
you judge the forces of division and evil,
and destroy the powers of oppression.
By your Spirit you have created your church, one people,
the Body of Christ, united throughout the world in your grace,
and you call us to be reconciled in Christ.
As you draw us to your feast this day, you call all your children;
we are one with them, and we honor them here around this table.
Therefore with the faithful around the world we sing as one voice:

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your beloved Son, your Christ:
he formed community, welcomed the outcast,
and planted a mustard seed of faith in each of us.
He has broken down all dividing walls
and made us one in his love;
for in him you have established with us
an eternal covenant of reconciliation.

[… The Blessing and Covenant …]*

In the death and resurrection of Christ
you have freed us from all that separates us
from one another, and from you.
And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

[Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we maybe for the world the Body of Christ,
made one not by our faith but by your love,
one Body around the world,
one in you, and one in ministry to the world,
in the name and the live of Christ.

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Creator God, you have made the whole universe
from a single batch of dough,
and all humanity from one lump of dust,
breathing your one Spirit into us in our many forms,
many colors, many languages.
You continually create us as one, set us free from our divisions,
and walk with us into new life that is not like our captivity.

And so we celebrate with this Bread of Liberation, Bread of Unity.
       As many grains are made into one loaf,
       you make us into one Body in Christ.

We thank you for Jesus, who embodied your loving presence
and called us to our natural unity,
bringing back the outcast, restoring the forgotten.
For challenging our proud divisions
he was crucified by the forces of separation,
but he was raised by the power of unity and oneness, the power of love.
       In his life, death and resurrection we behold your grace,
       and we give thanks.
[The Blessing and Covenant…] *

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
       Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
       we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
       as a living and holy sacrifice,
       in union with Christ’s offering for us,
       as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
       Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.       
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
       one in your love, one with each other, one in Christ,
       and one in ministry to all the world
       by the power of your Spirit alive in us.


* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. As many grains are made one in a loaf of bread, you make us one Body in Christ by your love. Send us into the world to love courageously and to serve humbly, for the sake of the healing and harmony of all Creation. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Children of the Heavenly Mother    (Tune: Children of the Heavenly Father)

Children of the Heavenly Mother,
gather gladly with each other,
for you call us to your table
bringing gifts as we are able.

You have held us and caressed us,
washed and taught us, healed and blessed us;
now you cherish and adore us
and you set this table for us

You have birthed us, and have freed us;
with your body now you feed us.
In this grace, O loving mother,
we are one with one another.

So we praise you, heavenly Mother,
Holy Spirit, Christ our brother,
All Creation sings together
honor, thanks and praise for ever.

O Faithful God [Tune: Finlandia]

O faithful God, whose steadfast love is sure,
O Loving Father, Mother kind and strong:
your Covenant forever will endure;
you bind us to your heart our whole life long.
No matter how rebellious is your child,
in you we are brought home and reconciled

You hold us, God, in kinship with each other.
We have been loved and held when we would run.
We all are siblings, all born of one Mother;
though we would flee, you join us all as one.
Our deepest wounds come from our deepest love,
and so our highest hope for life above

So teach us God, to bravely love each other,
for all belong within your house of grace,
to give our enemy, who is our brother,
our steadfast mercy, and a wide embrace;
for in our love, though we be right or wrong,
we know the grace to which we all belong.

One Loaf      (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

Like wheat that’s made into one loaf of bread,
we are one Body with Christ as our head,
grateful for grace guiding us from above,
we are one people, one Spirit, one love.

Spirit, you live in us, in each and in all,
giving us each gifts to answer your call.
Your gift is in every soul, every heart,
each of us needed to offer our part.

Give us the faith, God, to go where you lead,
act as your loving and kind mustard seeds.
Send us in love to this world so in need,
spreading your good news in word and in deed.

Your Hands and Your Face (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God of all holiness, baptized in you,
we are your Body: your presence shines through.
We, poor in spirit, are blessed with your own.
May our lives shine forth with your grace alone.

We who with Jesus do mourn with the world
shall see your banners of deep joy unfurled.
We who are hungry for love freely shared
feast at the banquet that you have prepared.

May we be merciful and pure in heart,
your gentle peacemakers, doing our part.
Dying and rising, we do not fear loss,
sealed with your Spirit and marked with your cross.

Blest and beloved and baptized to serve,
we are your Body and you are our nerve.
Not by our effort, but by your pure grace,
may we be your hands and your human face.

Your Holy Feast (Tune: Oh Danny Boy)

Oh healing Christ, you bring us to your table here,
to share with you, and all the ones you love.
We come as one, alike forgiven, healed and dear.
Oh come and bless us, Spirit, tender Dove.
Oh, make us yours, your servants and your lovers.
Oh, make us one, united here in you.
Oh, make us new: the Red Sea lead us over,
and set us free to walk in harmony with you.

We come to eat the bread of peace you offer us.
We come to drink your resurrecting wine.
We come to feast upon your presence here with us,
and so become your Body as we dine.
So make us whole again, and be our living breath.
Make us your hands, and you will be our nerve.
Oh, risen Christ, we join you, rising up from death,
and by your side we’ll go, made new, to love and serve.

We Feast on Your Love (Original song)

Chorus: We feast on your presence.
We feast on your love.
This is the banquet we’ve been dreaming of. (Repeat.)

We reach for the hem of your garment,
we open ourselves to your grace.
In flows the mercy you offer
in every time and place. — Chorus

You gather us; none is unworthy;
and no one is “greatest” or “least.”
You multiply what we offer,
so multitudes may feast. — Chorus

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