Churches around the world today, the first Sunday of October, are participating in two very distinct observances. The first, you may have heard about on the news, is called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” Pastors who lament the laws that keep tax-exempt churches from endorsing political candidates and taking strongly political stands, have decided to “Take Back” their pulpits. They argue that if we look through the lens of Scripture and the Christian story, then we will see very clear dividing lines between political parties, local ballot initiatives and social issues and that it is their responsibility to share those clear dividing lines from their pulpit to their congregation. The second observance is World Communion Sunday, which proclaims something different. In celebrating World Communion Sunday we are not making a statement about the clear dividing lines that may or may not exist in culture, politics and society. (In fact, I suspect there are at least a few churches observing both Pulpit Freedom Sunday AND World Communion Sunday.) The spirit of World Communion Sunday is this…
The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said…
To the disciple who loved him and remained with him until the very end—“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And to the disciple who also loved him, but could never quite get it right and would, in just a few hours, deny that he even knew Jesus--- “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And to the disciple who would eventually doubt the cold hard facts that Jesus had been resurrected—“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And to the deceiver, the one who Jesus knew at that very moment already had plans in motion to turn him over to the political and religious authorities—“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And to us—all of us—Democrats, Republicans, Independents, those against “Big Government” and those who are ok with a lot of government programs, those for Big Bird and those who wish he would just support himself, Jesus says “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup after supper, and he takes the cup now and says to the tiny congregation in a Ugandan village, under fear of attack “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
He says to the pastor who, as I speak, is preaching against certain political candidates, gay marriage and abortion—This is the blood of Christ, shed for you, do this in remembrance of me.
He says to the gay teenager, the girl who still lives with the pain of her abortion, the middle aged mother whose halo is on a little too tight, to every political candidate, every welfare recipient and every Wall Street Banker, anyone from any corner of the world who is in need of mercy, grace and Love, this morning he says—This is my body, this is my blood, shed for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
In celebrating World Communion Sunday we make a bold statement—Christ has destroyed the dividing lines. And to be honest, we are also taking a bold risk—the risk that we will be associated with “The Other.” When we recognize that in communion, in remembering the sacrifice of Jesus for all, that God has flung the door wide open, we put ourselves in company with people who are not like us—who look different than us and who talk different than us and even who vote different than us.
Today we remember that we make up a larger body of believers, desperate people from far corners of the world who believe one thing—We are all desperate and in need of salvation.
So if this is you, you are welcome to the table.