Sunday, October 02, 2016

World Communion Sunday

I don't know how widely this is recognized, but Disciples of Christ tend to be really big on ecumenical things, so we usually do something for it.

I admit it, I like things like this. They are important to me. I think part of it is that they're a reminder that there's something bigger than I am, something out there beyond the little world I'm a day-to-day part of. And I have enough of an imagination to be able to picture Christians in Europe or Africa or Asia taking communion and wondering about North American Christians, just as I wonder about the other people around the world who believe as I do.

They did things a little differently this year - instead of a sermon, there was a series of readings and songs. (I did one of the readings, from I Corinthians 11. The one that contains the statement that I this was used to explain why some Christian groups insist on something like confession before communion. And I knew someone once who had had argument with a sibling, and he actually got up and walked out of church before communion - because he felt he had to make it right with her (I think it was a sister) before he could do that. I always thought very highly of him for having done that.)

Also, the children did a processional where each one had a piece of fabric representative of the different continents (so, for example, an African-print fabric, and one with very big tropical flowers on it - I think that was for Oceania and the Pacific Islands because there was another textile representing South America). They draped the communion table with them and the two oldest "kids" (tween boys - I have known them since they were babies, which is kind of amazing to me) carried in banners, one with the bread and wine on it, and the other with a globe and the words "World Communion Sunday".

It was nice. I think it is good to involve children like that; I know things that got me involved when I was a kid is one of the things that has led to me being a lifelong churchgoer. (Though also the fact that it was sometimes the one place - other than my own family - where I didn't feel "weird" and like an outcast probably had a lot to do with that as well).

I remember one year, years ago - this would have been when I still lived in Ohio - they did a reading of the Lord's Prayer in different languages. There was a German lady in that congregation, and someone who taught Spanish, and I think someone who spoke one of the Slavic languages. I got to be a part of it, but I can't remember now if I read the English part (it sticks in my head that I did) or if I knew enough French at that point to do French. (We may have had someone who spoke "better" French, in the sense of having been a native or semi-native speaker). I *think* we may even have had someone who spoke one of the African languages....

(And a few years ago, those of us who could speak another language - we wound up with German, French (me), Spanish, and Choctaw - did the Acts 2 passage for Pentecost. That was pretty cool, too, and I spent a lot of time figuring out how you would "correctly" say places like Phrygia and Cyrene in French, or at least make it sound not out-of-place. I guess my accent has got better over time...)

But I do value things like that. To me, they remind me that even though there are a lot of things that divide us, we can often find things in common. Thus, I might have little in common with a woman living in a farming village in Africa - but if she walks down the path from her farm every Sunday to the little church in her town - we have that in common. Or while I might not recognize some of the cultural stuff Finnish people do, I would probably more or less understand the order of worship in  Finnish Protestant church. And I don't know a word of any Native American language, but I remember how, years and years ago, driving through the Hopi reservation on a Sunday with my family (we were on vacation) and the only radio station we could pick up was in Hopi, we listened to part of a church service - and could kind of guess when they were saying the Lord's prayer. (I don't know how, if at all, Native American Christianity differs from "European-American" Christianity, but I am pretty sure that was the Lord's Prayer in Hopi that I heard)

I dunno. I guess my MO in life is to try to look for the things I have in common with people and (as much as I reasonably can) overlook the things I don't - so things like World Communion Sunday are meaningful to me.

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