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World Communion by Connie McNeill

World Communion Sunday is a worldwide tradition begun in this century. The minister at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Hugh Thomson Kerr, had the idea of World Communion Sunday during his year as moderator of the General Assembly in 1930. The tradition began four years later out of the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. Why that group?

Their vision was to create a sign of Christian unity by bringing churches together through service. In serving together, they hoped for everyone to have reaffirmed how important the Church is and how each congregation is connected with one another. In 1936, the Presbyterian Church adopted the tradition. Four years later in 1940, the National Council of Churches endorsed it, and the tradition spread worldwide.

The primary focus for this first Sunday in October each year is unity or communion. To celebrate, we share in one Christian practice that is found in every church around the world—the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup. Together, on one Sunday, we all celebrate our gratefulness for Christ's sacrifice again. Just think what it might be like to celebrate with the various types of bread found around the world—rice cakes, tortillas, gluten-free, soda bread, sourdough, pita…you get the idea.

In addition to unity, World Communion Sunday is an opportunity for us to partake of our Lord’s Supper as an opening of ourselves to different Christian traditions around the world. All brothers and sisters in Christ. As at Pentecost, praising in different languages. Remembering our Christ and each other as we serve this fractured world in unity.

Posted by Connie McNeill at Friday, September 29, 2017 | 0 comments
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Don't Spit Anywhere by Steve Hemphill

The first international mission trip I went on was with Harold Phillips.  Despite that, I've gone on several since.  I even went with him again the next year to the same places in China!  Our Chinese hosts may have thought we were intoxicated because we were laughing most of the time!   It was 1999 and 2000 when we visited Nanning, in the far South, near Vietnam (not to be confused with the much more famous Nanjing).  I had never heard of Nanning even though its population is more than all Missouri.  Everything in China is bigger and/or older than just about everything in the USA.

China is huge! Even though the population of China is over one billion, many parts are still very remote.  One village we visited was barely accessible by automobile.  Upon arrival, a village elder joked with us that the last foreigner they had seen was a retreating Japanese soldier! 

I had traveled extensively globally and often heard myself saying “Oh, that reminds me of “X” back home.”    I never said that in Southern China!  Nothing reminded me of home (except for the sign across the street from our hotel which announced the future arrival of Walmart). 

Speaking of signs, I am reminded of two that really caught my attention.  The first is from an airport which, to the Western eye, really looks odd!  It is an attempt to 'cover all the bases' and leave no stone unturned.”

 

 

           

           

 

 

The second sign is from a hospital and is just plain funny.  It represents the opposite sentiment: “keep it short and simple.”

 

          

 

 

 

 

I think we often fall prey to these same extreme sentiments.  Too often in our attempt to get the message across we list every possible scenario and try to cover every loophole.  Lawyers are particularly bad about this. Just try reading a federal/state statute for example.  If Jesus had tried to list every sin which is a 'no-go area,' it would make for a mighty long list and a boring read.  That's why he spoke in parables and allowed his listeners to 'fill in the blanks' and to apply their own understanding. 

Of course, the Old Testament does give us at least one 'short and simple' list which leaves less wiggle room...The Ten Commandments. 

May we lead our lives somewhere in between these two signs... flexible when trying to be inclusive yet clear and concise when trying to be understood.

Submitted by Steve Hemphill

at Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | 0 comments
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October Monthly Newsletter World Communion by Jason Edwards

Christians across the globe celebrate this every year on the first Sunday in October. Whether in our sanctuary or with others in downtown Liberty, our celebration has largely been contained by morning worship as we receive symbols of Christ’s body and blood from the Lord’s table. This is good, though this year I’m wondering if this Sunday might serve as an October call to action, one shaped by the meanings of World Communion.

Communion in our context is first and foremost Eucharist. When you hear this word, you may simply think of it as another Christian tradition’s designation for the Lord’s Supper. It is, but this name contains within it a call to action we ought to heed. It comes from the Greek word used in the telling of the Last Supper: “The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks (εὐχαριστήσας), he broke it, and said, "This is my body…” The word Eucharist literally means thanksgiving. I know it’s only October, but perhaps this year we shouldn’t wait for the turkey to prompt our practice of gratitude. We’re learning, after all, that gratefulness is key to cultivating joy.

A “communion” is also an intimate fellowship. People sometimes talk about communing with nature. We don’t often refer to a meaningful meal with family or great friends as “communing” with one another, but the reference works. (Hey kids – come to the table – it’s time to commune!) Beyond that, a communion can also be a group that experiences an ongoing connection because of what they hold in common. As a church and as a Church, (big C and little c) we have this sacred inheritance.

We are mysteriously interconnected to one another at a local and global level by the power of the Holy Spirit. What might it mean for us to practice that aspect of World Communion this month? Perhaps it’s time to read stories of suffering Christian brothers and sisters from places like Sudan. This may be the perfect month to share a meal with people whose ethnic or economic reality offers a different worldview than your own. We may want to spend this month attempting to be completely open to others, no matter how difficult that might be. At Second Baptist, we continue to celebrate our recent decision to make our church membership as open as our communion table. What if our hearts could open up a bit more too? It seems to me our hearts can always stand to open up a bit more too. What might that look like for you?

Finally, World Communion is about our common commitment to the Good News. Paul writes “for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) Christians all over our world are connected because we have been swept up into this Holy Communion with God and others by the saving, redeeming, unifying, life-giving power of Jesus Christ. That’s not just something worth celebrating, that’s worth sharing. Who might you invite into Communion this month?

With Thanksgiving,

Jason Edwards
Senior Pastor

Posted by Jason Edwards at Monday, September 25, 2017 | 0 comments
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