One in Christ – October 3, 2010
Ephesians 4:1-6, 15-17
October 3, 2010
World Communion Sunday. I’ve always liked that! I’ve always liked the idea of sharing this sacrament with Christians around the world. But it’s grown on me even over the years. And I think it grew the most, and I’ve said this before, after the millennium year of 2000. Because I remember the TV images the New Year’s celebration that year as it rolled around the world and reached each successive time zone. Since then, I’ve thought of World Communion Sunday in the same way, with those kinds of images.
Think about it. Picture the millions of followers of Jesus Christ gathering at this table today, hour after hour, in time zone after time zone. They’re dressed in many different ways, they’re singing different kinds of music, they’re speaking different languages. (Which gives the whole picture a kind of “Pentecost” feel!) And they’re saying and doing the same things we’re doing here today.
I want you to think about that “rolling” celebration, today. And I want you to remember these words of Paul, saying we are all “one in Christ.” That’s pretty amazing, if you think about it! But what does that mean? Does that mean we all worship the same way? Does that mean we all believe the same things? Does it mean we all agree on things? And now I’m not just talking about all of the many different nations and cultures. I’m asking those questions about the people in each one of all those individual churches? Are they all in agreement on everything?
What about our Church? Do we worship the same way? Do we believe all the same things? Do we always agree on everything? Of course not! So how are we one? What is our commonality? Paul reminds us that it is Christ. We are one in him. I hope we know that today. I hope we live that!
Even so, does that mean that we all believe the same things about him? Now, that’s a tougher question! Because I’m not so sure we do! Some focus more on his teachings, some focus more on his grace. Some of us are more learners, some are simply followers. Some believe what he said. Some are more focused on what he did. And even when we say we believe certain common things about Christ, what’s in our hearts? Do we ever question those beliefs? Do we ever doubts? Do we ever wonder if Jesus really is the Son of God? And when we do doubt, does God hold us to whatever our level our belief happens to be at any given moment? Think about that! If we happen to be on a spiritual low or going through a crisis in faith when it’s time to “check out,” does God say, “Sorry. You should have planned that better!”
Well, I’m glad to say he doesn’t. I believe that’s part of what Grace means. Because if you think about it, when we’re in the valleys of life, when our faith is low, when we’re going through times of great questioning or doubt, or even when we’ve distanced ourselves from God – intentionally or unintentionally – God is still gracious! His love for us is still steadfast! His faithfulness to us sure! Think about that! Try to wrap your mind around that! Yes, in our faith we strive to be faithful to God. But in the meantime, God is faithful to us!
We don’t have to hope that when the time does come for us, that we’re in “God’s good graces” then! We don’t have to hope that we’ll be at a high point in our faith at that time? Because God faithful! God is always faithful. God is “Semper Fidelis.” Otherwise, it all seems like just a “spin of the wheel” doesn’t it? And if you’re not sure, you’d better spend time down at Parx and work on improving your odds!
The problem is that we do worry about God’s faithfulness – especially when we haven’t been very faithful. We’re afraid God’s faithfulness might waver, because that’s what happens to us. We as people have a tendency to “withdraw our loyalty” when someone is not in our “good graces.” It’s hard for us to believe that God doesn’t do that!
So how do we know that? How can we be sure? Do we believe it because it seems “believable?” Actually it does not! If you think about it, a big part of our faith is striving to believe the unbelievable! And sometimes I think this is one of the hardest things. God is faithful! But it’s more than that. Because we’re remembering today that we are “one in Christ.” And – in him – we are new creations! We’re not just “forgiven.” We’re not just “saved – and now the odds are in our favor.” Those things are important, and those things are wonderful, and they are based on the faithfulness of God, rather than our faithfulness to him. But even more than that, because God is faithful, we are new creations. All things are new. Nothing is as it was!
We’re going to talk about that more next week. But for now, let us remember that we are “one in Christ.” That is our commonality. And God is faithful. As we gather at this table, and the one at Bensalem Pres., and Bensalem Methodist, and Peace Lutheran, and Wilkinson, and Carmel, and Morrisville, and countless other churches across this nation, and around the world, we do so rejoicing in God’s grace, his steadfast love and faithfulness to us! We do so knowing we are one. Paul says, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” And one baptism means one whether we’ve been “sprinkled,” “dunked,” “immersed,” or “poured,” as infant or adult. We are one in Christ. That’s what we celebrate here!
We celebrate here God’s amazing grace. We celebrate his steadfast love and faithfulness. We celebrate here that we are all God’s children, no matter what we look like, no matter how we’re dressed, no matter what language we speak, or what time zone we occupy. And the greatest mystery is this. When we gather at this table – these many tables – God is with us! He makes us one. We rejoice in him, and if we can believe it, he rejoices in us!
And so let us prepare our hearts once again to receive him…
Lord, may we feel your Holy Spirit touching us as we prepare for this sacrament this day. Help us to feel the connection and spiritual communion with your followers around the world. May the love and grace and faithfulness you have for us be evident in our lives this day, to the glory of your kingdom, and in Jesus’ name, Amen.