WORLD COMMUNION SUNDAY -OCTOBER 3, 2010
Celebrate Christ, Our Peace
Lamentations 3:19–26 or Psalm 137
2 Timothy 1:1–14
On World Communion Sunday, we gather in unity with believers around the world to break the bread of life and drink from the cup of salvation. We gather in suffering, celebration, and hope, remembering that in a broken and war-torn world, God’s grand vision for peace and justice thrives and continues to course through the veins of the church body.
Born amid gathering clouds of war and great economic uncertainty, World Communion Sunday draws the global community of believers together to proclaim God’s reign over the powers of this world. We also remember our communal commitment to live in hope and engage in resurrection work. Today, believers again stand in the midst of political and economic unrest, remaining as recipients and agents of God’s call to peacemaking, that is, shalom-making.
At first glance, the lectionary texts for our celebration seem far from celebratory or inspiring; lament, fear, and suffering offer every reason not to be at peace. However, a closer look reveals two important themes: community and call. The Hebrew Scripture selections are works of lamentation, crying out in pain and desolation. The words drip with heartbreak at abandonment and sorrow; yet these are not the cries of an individual. In spite of a bottomless despair, God’s people cry together as a community, and their lamentation moves the collective from suffering toward communal healing and renewal: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:21–23).
The New Testament texts are just as unglamorous. In Luke, Jesus rebuffs the disciples’ assumptions that bigger (faith) is better, and that they ought to receive recognition for their work. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds his young disciple that he stands on the shoulders of matriarchs from whom he has inherited a faith for which he must now choose to suffer. The New Testament selections underscore the paradox of God’s equations—that suffering and perseverance somehow equal joy and wholeness. They remind us that while our faith affords us the power to move mountains, our call to shalom-making does not necessarily come with a salary, benefits package, and three weeks of vacation.
This call is at once terrifying, wonderful, dreadful, and hopeful. It embodies the journey from Good Friday despair through Easter Sunday joy over and over again. The structure of this year’s worship liturgy is intended to follow our Scripture, leading us from communal lament to a unified hope in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, ultimately arriving at a renewed steadfastness in our individual—as well as collective—call toward shalom-making. It is a journey and commitment that, while made individually, is carried out in community. We not only remember this on World Communion Sunday, but we celebrate it. We celebrate the One who not only extends to us our call, but also sustains us throughout the journey.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
Call to Worship
One: Welcome, worshipers of God. Hear the words of Jesus as he calls us today:
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).
All: Answer us, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to us for we are in distress. Draw near to us, redeem us, and set us free. (Adapted from Psalm 69:10–18)
Prayer of the Day
O Redeemer God, as we gather in worship on this World Communion Sunday, we ask that you send your Holy Spirit to fall afresh on us. We pray for your Spirit to awaken new hope in us. Grant us the vision to see the coming of your kingdom. Help us to celebrate the glimpses of grace that you have given to each of us. Knit our hearts together in worship and communion so that we know we do not struggle alone in working for your peace and justice. We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
Adapted from “A Psalm of Peacemaking,” written for the United Presbyterian Church’s document, Peacemaking: The Believer’s Calling (1980).
One: We live in a time of kairos
When humanity stands on the border of a promised time
when God’s people are summoned to obedience
Many: to preserve God’s creation,
to stand with the poor and oppressed everywhere,
and to stand together as the people of the earth;
One: when with confession and with humility we repent
Many: of our blindness to the division and war in our own
hearts and in our own land,
of our obsession with money and our pursuit of power,
of our irrational belief in security through violence,
and of our worship of secular gods.
One: Merciful God, forgive us and have mercy on us.
Call us and give us the strength to
Many: speak boldly with moral conviction to the nation and to the world,
build, with God’s grace, a new moral order in the world community;
and act now for world peace, an enterprise of justice and love.
All: We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
But this [we] call to mind, and therefore [we] have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is God’s faithfulness. In Jesus Christ we are forgiven!
Passing of the Peace of Christ
Old Testament Lesson
New Testament Lesson or Gospel Sermon
Offering and Receiving the Peacemaking Offering
Prayers of the People
Collect to End the Prayers of the People
O God, author of life and source of hope: Hear our petitions, spoken and unspoken, and gather them together with those of your people around the world so that in our collective life and hope together, we would all be guided and oriented toward your vision of shalom. Grant us courage where there is fear and hope where there is despair so that we might dare to live out our calling as loving peacemakers and merciful justice-seekers. In the name of the One who called your children blessed peacemakers. Amen.
Celebration of Communion
Parts of this liturgy have been adapted and modified from a Communion liturgy written by Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Rev. Jose Francisco Morales, Disciples of Christ. Used with permission.
Friends, this is the joyful feast of unity. Christ has gathered his people around the earth to commune at this table. Across political lines and economic lines, in places of powerfully protected affluence, and among the poorest of the poor, we share a meal, remembering and celebrating the One who proved shalom possible.
And so, come: you from the East and you from the West,
from the North and from the South.
Come. Come with your doubts, come with your hopes, come
with your inadequacies and with your strengths.
All: Come, for this is a table where all are invited and all are welcome.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
One: The Lord be with you.
Many: And also with you.
One: Lift up your hearts.
Many: We lift them to the Lord.
One: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Many: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
One: Great God of creation: From the soil of the earth, you have formed us in your image. We are a symphony of languages, a mosaic of customs, and a medley of flavors; we are your grand design and desire for humanity.
Many: We remember that at creation, you brought life out of chaos and began the great act of salvation. You created a wild and beautiful world, drawing up mountains and laying out plains; a world dripping with humid jungle and scorched with parched desert.
One: You created a world of enough. You fed us manna and quail in the desert, bread and fish with leftovers at the seaside. By your Word, you fed us the bread of life and offered us living water. And in your presence at this table, we stand as recipients of these gracious acts of shalom.
Many: You created a world of compassion. You mandated jubilee, calling your people to a life of generous commonality. You dared our enemies to throw stones if they could find no sin within. You hear our ugly thoughts and still call us beloved.
One: Great Spirit of life and unity: Through this simple meal, draw us together. Renew our minds, reframe our thoughts, and reorient our hearts to beat with the rhythm of our call to shalom-making. Reshape our understanding so that when we remember Jesus, we remember him as he was, rather than as we want him to be.
Words of Institution
Help us to see that on the night before his death, as Jesus took bread among his friends, after giving thanks, he blessed it and broke it. He gave it to his disciples, saying: “Take, eat. This is my body interrogated, legislated, silenced, interned, relocated, exiled, excluded, and executed. This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, he took a cup and passed it among his friends, saying: “This is the cup of a new covenant, sealed in my blood. Blood shed in war and in the struggle for daily life. Blood that carries a story of love accumulated and passed forward through generations. Blood that flows with compassion and forgiveness for you and for all people. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.”
Gracious Host, send your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these your gifts of bread and wine, that as we share in bread and cup, we might be united in the ministry of shalom-making with all believers across space and time.
Now we join our voices with brothers and sisters around the world, praying in the language in which we learned to pray the prayer that Jesus taught us: Our Father . . .
One: We are a people renewed. We are a people of hope. Many: We are a people of lament and a people of celebration.
One: So let us go into the world with lives that witness to the work of Christ;
Many: Lives of merciful justice-making, lives of peacemaking, lives of shalom-making,
One: Lamenting with those who lament, Many: Living in hope and celebrating Christ, our peace.
All: Alleluia! Amen!
From The Presbyterian Hymnal
“Take My Life and Let It Be,” #391
“O for a World,” #386
“Today We All Are Called to Be Disciples,” #434
“Canto de Esperanza/Song of Hope,” #432
“Live Into Hope,” #332
“Called as Partners in Christ’s Service,” #343
“I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me,” #369
From Sing the Faith
“Uyai Mose”/“Come All You People,” #2274
(also in Sing! A New Creation, #4)
Picture: Cláudio Carvalhaes
From Sing! A New Creation
(Reformed Church Press, 2001)
“Jesu, Tawa Pano”/“Jesus, We Are Here,” #5
(Text and music: Patrick Matsikenyiri, Zimbabwe)
“As We Gather at Your Table,” #245 “WeAreanOffering,”#230
From With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress, 1995)
“One Bread, One Body,” #710