World Communion Sunday

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  October 5, 2013

            What do we think they are? Fascists, communists, socialists, or simply traitors? They may be bent toward evil, corrupt and debased. They are likely filled with hate, clouded with ignorance, and have rejected the truth in favor of their own self-destructive beliefs. They are not real Christians because their actions clearly do not reflect the Jesus we know and love. They are liberal, conservative, progressive, fundamentalist, and generally extremist in every way we know is wrong.
            Regardless of what label is chosen, there are those who will claim it as a badge of honor and those who will refute it as a disgraceful insult and prejudicial stereotype. Such labels give the illusion of defining our world in terms that we can embrace, defend, and understand. Yet, they also serve to undermine the integrity of the faith we hold and share.
            Throughout this week, we have seen many such labels tossed about in conversations about the governmental shut-down. Democrats have painted the Republicans as disgraceful and uncompromising. Republicans have painted Democrats as arrogant and immature. In the midst of the back-and-forth accusations and pontifications, little genuine work has been accomplished.
            Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, amid the high-profile debates in Washington D.C., the rancorous incivility in our nation’s capital is also problematic within the church. We have, in many ways, substituted legalistic absolutes in the place of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, and power.
            Tomorrow is a special day that will be recognized by many different Christian traditions and denominations. It is World Communion Sunday. It is a day when Christians intentionally and joyously gather around the Lord’s Table in observance of a special Communion time when we do more than remember the broken body and spilled blood of Jesus Christ. We remember that because of the cross, we are united in forgiveness and blessing even when we experience and express our Christian faith in different terms or by using different doctrines.
            Christianity is a beautifully diverse faith that is rich with many different expressions and, frequently, we will disagree with how others in the family of faith understand and proclaim God. Yet, much like the tumultuous rhetoric of Capitol Hill and the political pundits that are driving much of our national discourse, many Christians have forsaken much of our sense of civil discourse and mutual understanding. Rather than seeing one another as brothers and sisters with whom we legitimately disagree, we are increasingly branding one another with derogatory and hateful labels that serve only to degrade our shared humanity and mutual love for Jesus Christ.
            World Communion Sunday is, in many ways, a call for all Christians to reclaim our first love—Jesus Christ. It is a message that recalls the core meaning and intent of Acts, Romans, First Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, the letters to Timothy, Titus, and James, and the seven letters in the first three chapters of Revelation, just to name a few. Although important in their own way, when we let matters of doctrine and self-righteousness override our love for Jesus Christ and devoted service to his ministry, we forsake our first love.
            Regardless of what church we attend, what political party we support, or what we believe about any given governmental policy, let us not forget that Jesus took the bread, he blessed it and broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Together, let us remember and be Christians first!