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Come to the (Global) Table!

Since 1933, there has been a tradition among some Christian churches of dedicating the first Sunday in October to Christian unity across the globe. Called World Communion Sunday, Eden Church, and the wider United Church of Christ, celebrates the day to remind ourselves that despite our religious and political differences Christians across the globe are part of one body, that being the body of Christ.

Lately I’ve been thinking that the idea that we are part of one body is something that is easier to say than to actually be. For example, when the Grand Jury in Pennsylvania completed its work in Aug and announced that over 1,000 children had been abused by Catholic priests over a 70 year period, I certainly didn’t want to either be or say that I was part of that body of Christ. But when local Christian pastors took to the streets in early Sept to protest global warming and climate change, I was more than happy to say, “Well done, brothers and sisters!”

I guess it’s only fitting that we reject what is immoral and wrong and that we embrace that which is consistent with God’s desire that we act with justice and mercy. But despite the Biblical admonition to remove those body parts that offend us — eyes and hands — it isn’t actually possible for the individual body to disassemble itself in this manner without irreparably harming the whole.
If we can neither embrace nor sever the parts of our body we disagree with, where does that leave us? I think the only path is to confess that we are – at best – an imperfect body. We are not whole, we are not without flaw or sin, we are far from perfect. We are in need of repair and healing and in some respects, we are in need of profound reunification.

I don’t know how we get there except possibly to offer the same tools we use in our families and with our friends to heal the breaches that arise from time to time. Take my friend who had a distant cousin in prison in the Central Valley. He didn’t know him well, but he knew he was in trouble and he knew they weren’t many in the family who planned to visit or support him. So he took it upon himself to go and visit the young man. When I asked him why, his answer was simple: “Because he’s family and he needs me. If I don’t help him now, who will help me when I make a mistake.”
Not many of us can be that forgiving to strangers, even if they are part of our family body. But all of us could use a little more communication, a little more forgiveness, a little more focus on what we have in common, which in all likelihood will primarily be this fellow named Jesus who sat at a dinner table and offered his body and life blood to everyone, including the one he knew was about to sell him out for a measly 30 pieces of silver.

In honor of World Communion Sunday, I invite you to consider the difficult idea that those Christians that displease or anger you are in fact part of you. If you can’t accept or help them change, perhaps you can pray for their healing, their growth, or a change of their heart, and see them not as strangers but as part of what we become responsible for as we move through this world as followers of Christ.

World Communion Sunday is Oct 7. Come celebrate Communion, hear the Gay Asian Pacific Islander Association Men’s Chorus perform, and join us for a soup potluck in Oliver Hall following worship.

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