World Communion Sunday

Sunday, October 4th is World Communion Sunday. It’s interesting to reflect that it’s not celebrated in other parts of the world. So why do it? Isn’t it true that we, comfortable European Americans, need reminding about the very existence of the rest of the world? It is so much easier to live our daily lives in relative ignorance of the hardships of daily living for people in Palestine or Syria, The Philippines or East Timor.

It seems fitting that we should celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion with breads and prayers and hymns from around the world. These parts of worship become the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace – the meaning of sacrament. Like baptism, Communion is a vehicle that expresses God’s unconditional love for all humanity while it unites us with Christ and with the church in every time and place.

Sunday, we’ll return to the gospel after spending a month in The Season of Creation. Of course, it would have to be a difficult text, right? Mark 10:2-12 has been called ‘the text of terror’ for those who are single, lesbian, divorced, bisexual, gay, transgendered, intersex or questioning. This abusive misinterpretation ignores the context of this passage and ostracizes rather than building up relationships. This conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees is more about testing Jesus than it is about learning his stance on divorce.

Being part of a community is difficult – it takes hard work. Relationships do not come naturally, but require us to be diligent and compassionate. We live in a world of grey, and this in turn requires us to be more open than we might sometimes like. Jesus answers a question 2,000 years ago, in a very different context from which we live today, and yet too often people want to take today’s gospel out of that context, and apply to modern situations. To offer the benefit of the doubt, they may not do so with evil intentions, but the reality still remains that untold amounts of pain can be caused by taking Mark 10:2–12 as being a ruling to apply to our modern understanding of marriage and family, which differs greatly from the business relationship that was common in Jesus’ time.

Sunday’s entire passage, Mark 10: 2-16, ends with Jesus blessing the children. Union church highly values children as well as a variety of family configurations. The message of the gospel puts emphasis on loving ‘the least of these’ and when we live this way, we open ourselves to the fullness of God.

Remember, in whatever arrangement we choose to live, God blesses us, loves us, and calls us to be disciples.

Thanks be to God!

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