World Communion Sunday: A reminder that we are always welcome back home
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
October 5, 2018
Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table. … “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:1-2, 5-6 NRSV).
When I was twenty years old, I took a break from church. I dropped out of the campus ministry groups I’d been involved in. While I still went to worship on Sunday, my attendance became more sporadic during the fall semester, and I stopped going to Sunday school so I could sleep in. That spring, I studied abroad in England and traveled through Europe. I visited many church buildings, but after my first Sunday in England, I did not attend a single worship service.
I’d come to college knowing I was called to ministry, but during my first two years, I had been pulled between two directions. Being part of a more conservative, evangelical campus ministry group with an energetic praise band was very different from the social justice-oriented congregation I’d grown up in. As much as I liked the music and enjoyed the student fellowship, I felt that my faith was being watered down against my will. Having been baptized at thirteen, here I was at age twenty hearing about how I needed to be saved again. During this time, I’d also become involved in the Gay-Straight Alliance student group (before the acronym LGBTQ was more commonly used), and I found that my friends in the GSA didn’t understand my involvement with these conservative Christian groups while my Christian friends couldn’t understand why I’d want to be part of a GSA.
So I stopped going to church for a while.
While I studied abroad, I felt terribly lonely, even though I was meeting people all over the world. But I didn’t want to go to church. I sometimes prayed, but I didn’t read the Bible much for that year, feeling a bit lost on my way.
But on the first Communion Sunday at my home church after I returned—a Sunday I will never forget—our pastor shared the words of institution, “This body, given for you; this cup, poured out for you.” Suddenly, I felt like I was home again. I was with the people who’d known me for a long time, but it was more than that. God had been calling me to come home, and in that moment, I was home.
Our pastor shared the words of institution, “This body, given for you; this cup, poured out for you.” Suddenly, I felt like I was home again.
Homecoming usually occurs in October for high schools and colleges. Often there is a football game, and sometimes a parade and a dance, associated with the celebration. However, it is also time to a welcome back alumni, those coming back to a place where they once studied and lived, those who have had a much longer connection to the school than the years they actually attended.
In this spirit, World Communion Sunday is a homecoming celebration, a reminder that all of us, no matter our denomination, are part of the body of Christ. It is a welcome back home to remember that once we were a small house church, gathered together to remember our Lord’s life, death and resurrection. Christians all celebrate differently, in different forms and customs, but there is always a similarity in the words used to remember that Jesus took bread and said, “Take, eat, this is my body,” and then he took a cup, and gave it to them.
Jesus declares in Matthew 26:29, “I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (NRSV). Jesus is preparing us for homecoming, and every time we celebrate communion together, we are celebrating homecoming. On World Communion Sunday, we celebrate with our siblings in Christ around the world, in all our diverse cultures and customs surrounding this meal of remembrance.
No matter where we’ve wandered, no matter how lonely we think we are, God is calling us to come home. For those who have tried to find their own way, Wisdom calls out to us, and has set the table, ready for us to come home. Every time we share this meal together, we are reminded that we are home. That journey to becoming a person of faith, to believing in Christ, may have begun long ago, but our alumni status still stands: We are always being called home, and we are always welcome.
The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell is pastor of Queen Anne Baptist Church, Seattle, Wash., and ministry associate of social media for the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches USA.
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