Today is World Communion Sunday where people all over the world celebrate Jesus by having communion. At first I thought I would just use the sermon from last year for World Communion Sunday. But after reading the suggested list of scriptures for today, the part about Jesus and the children from Mark 10 stood out. So today we will talk a little about Jesus and children and a little about World Communion Sunday. Both topics are important I think. People were bringing their children to see Jesus but the disciples thought that He was too busy and this was a nuisance. It didn’t take long for Jesus to rebuke them. He said to let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. He goes on to say that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it. That is the verse that really struck a chord with me. The reading that I did about this part of Mark 10 talked about how important it is to have children come to church and learn about Jesus so that they can grow up to be adults with the same blind faith as a child has. I agree that this is partly about what is being said but what first came to my mind was that we adults should be more like the children and have more of that blind faith, just knowing that Jesus is important to us and that He is there for us. I think we have lost our innocence, our ability to love people as they are. A portion of a message from Dr. Philip W. McLarty said;
Eleanor Clarke was a retired nurse in Nashville, Tennessee. She’d lived alone most of her life and was used to being in control of her surroundings. She liked order and discipline, but everywhere she turned lately, it seemed, things were falling apart, and there wasn’t much she could do about it. She came to the early service of Holy Communion and sat on a pew by herself. Becky, a bright and beautiful 5 year old, came in at the last minute with her father, Henry. They stopped at Eleanor’s pew. Reluctantly, Eleanor moved over, and they slipped in and sat beside her. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but at one point in the service, I noticed that Eleanor was crying. Then I noticed when the congregation got up to leave, she was smiling, almost laughing out loud. Later that week Eleanor called and told me what had happened. She said, “Did you see that child that sat beside me in church Sunday?” I said, “Yes.” And she said, “For no reason at all, that sweet child reached over and put her hand on mine, and when the service was over, she said, ‘I enjoyed sitting by you today.” Eleanor said, “She’ll never know what that meant to this old woman.”
Dr. McLarty goes on to say that when children are in church, we all stand to gain. They enliven us and remind us what it means to be children of God. They bring out the child in us and help us to express our feelings, to loosen up and become more spontaneous. Children help us to let go of our pretenses and be ourselves, plain and simple, before God and each other.”
I know we don’t have the benefit of having children in our congregation and at our services very often. But what is stopping us from being like that 5 year old Becky and reaching out to each other for no particular reason or agenda, just because. We need to remember to take the time to look at the world as a young child would look at it. Find the good; don’t be so critical of how the other person thinks and lives their lives.
So with that, let us talk a little about World Communion Sunday.
The global celebration occurs on the first Sunday in October each year. It is a time when all the churches of the world are doing the same thing to remember the sacrifices that Jesus made for all of mankind.
Can you picture in your mind people all over the world having communion? Would it be the same way as we have communion? As different as we all are across the world, so different is how we serve communion. Some will receive cubes of bread. Some will tear from a common loaf. Some will receive a wafer. Some will drink from a common chalice. Some will dip a piece of bread into the cup. Some will have individual glasses. Some will use wine, some juice. Some will offer both. During this time of pandemic, I would imagine that celebrating World Communion Sunday will be a little different. Many churches are still not meeting in person. They will have communion services online, with their members following along at home. Those that are meeting in person, most likely, may have a different way to serve communion depending on their practices before the pandemic. Thinking creatively, World Communion Sunday will still be happening all over the world in spite of the pandemic.
Why do we celebrate communion and why is there now a World Communion Sunday?
We go back to the Last Supper. It was held on the evening of preparation for the Jewish Passover, a very holy time for the Jewish nation in remembrance of when God spared the Jews from the plague of death on every firstborn child in Egypt. Jesus arranged the dinner purposely by instructing His disciples where to host it. His twelve disciples were with Him during and after the meal. During this time is when Jesus makes the prediction that Peter will deny knowing Him three times before the rooster crows that morning. Jesus also predicts that one disciple, Judas Iscariot, will betray Him. Jesus predicts that He will suffer soon after this meal and it will be His last meal prior to finishing His work on behalf of the Kingdom of God. It is during this meal that Jesus broke the bread and drank of the cup stating that His disciples should take, eat, and drink in remembrance of Him.
He tells his disciples an important principle for all of us to follow as Christians; He said: “The greatest are those who serve others, not those who expect to be served.”
By serving and partaking of communion we are reminded that the bread is eaten and we drink from the cup to remember Jesus and that He died on the cross for all of us.
We should apply the lessons Jesus taught at the Last Supper to live a faithful life while here on earth by serving others in love. The bread is a symbol of the body of Jesus, never to be forgotten as it was given to us. The cup represents the blood of Jesus, never to be forgotten as he poured out His life for us. Jesus Christ has offered everybody the gift of His life, death, and resurrection. The Last Supper reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice, and that by faith in Him; we can dine with Christ for all eternity.
As we go to the table and partake of communion today, along with other Christians all over the world, remember that we do this just like the last Supper, in remembrance of Jesus Christ, who He was, how He served the people during His time here on earth, and how He died on the cross for all of us that we may have eternal life so that one day we will sit at the table with Him again for all eternity. Amen.