For many Christians, today is World Communion Sunday. The occasion resonates deeply for me. I’ve had the honor of serving this agape meal in places near and far: India, Africa, Mexico; hospitals and homes; prisons and open fields. To billions of people, the Communion table is the biggest table on our planet, still expanding in all directions of the compass.
There are various interpretations of this sacrament. For critics of religion, it’s a ritual with “barbaric” icons – eating flesh and drinking blood, a glorification of sacrifice. Others see it as a throwback to mystery cults like Mithraism. On the opposite end, many believe in transubstantiation, the literal miracle of the Eucharist.
None of these understandings lay claim to me. I celebrate Communion as a feast of love, a powerful symbol of reconciliation in a world torn by civil wars, racial unrest, mass shootings. It’s an undying dream of unity, where the lion lies down with the lamb, and all God’s children gather from the corners of the earth to sup in divine fellowship.
To those I’ve had the privilege of teaching, I describe it in a practical way.
There will forever be differences among us. Issues of conscience, seemingly intractable in daily life, divide us along lines of politics, gender, race and ideology.
Some seek a community of faith to align themselves with the “like-minded.” Not me. I long for a Body that stretches my love muscles, challenging me to find unity despite our diversity.
What is the point of a “communion” table that offers its gifts only to homogeneous groups of “cookie-cutter” disciples? How is this a healing force in our fractured world?
Instead, if we see the sacrificial love of Christ as a model for loving others as much (or even more!) than ourselves, communion transforms us. Ephesians says that Christ’s willingness to die rather than retaliate can, by example, break down dividing walls of hostility. It has the potential to dissolve the eye-for-an-eye retaliation so prevalent in human society.
Choosing love at this table works miracles. As we look around our gathered circle, seeing those that differ from us, the truth of The Lord’s Prayer becomes incarnational. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on EARTH as it is in heaven…
Today, if you are sharing this feast of the “now and yet to come,” I pray that its full power will awaken you. I pray it will draw you closer not only to God, but to others in the human family who are more similar to you than you imagine.
For as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we show forth to the world the reconciling love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ…