World Communion Sunday
When you are seasoning with hot pepper sauce, “a little goes a long way.” You don’t need much of it to make an impact. In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the disciples’ assumption that they need more faith. He tells them that a little faith goes a long way. How far can it go? It can yank a mulberry tree out of the ground and hurl it all the way to the sea. Planting a mulberry tree in the sea is a flamboyant expression of faith, but small gestures made in faith can grow into something extraordinary, too.
The first Sunday of October is World Communion Sunday. It originated in Pennsylvania in 1933, when the pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh suggested churches from different traditions celebrate communion on the same day to foster their sense of connection. At first, a few US Presbyterian churches participated; the denomination endorsed the celebration three years later. The world was headed toward a second world war in 1940 when the organization that preceded the National Council of Churches encouraged churches to demonstrate Christian unity through celebrating communion on the same day.
Christ prayed for unity for his followers. It is his gift and promise, but it is yet to be fulfilled. Differences among churches in tradition, custom, language, and location when celebrating communion need not impede unity. Each tradition has been given various gifts, which they bring to the table. We can celebrate and learn from these gifts; we can begin to experience the unity Christ intended through communion.
On World Communion Sunday, we don’t need to wait for more faith before experiencing unity. We are already of one Spirit and one body. Let’s see how far the faith we have can take us.
Barbara Styers, pastor, First Moravian Church
Greensboro, North Carolina