Summary: World Communion Sunday - unity in communion
(Adapted from What We’re Doing, and Why," Preaching Today, Tape No. 102.] There was a small-town church in upstate New York. They couldn’t afford a full time pastor and so their pastor was bivocational. He worked a real job – as if being a minister isn’t a real job or real work --- worked a real job Monday thru Friday and then he preached on Sunday. He felt it was his calling to serve this church and none other. Because it was such a small church and the pastor had no desire to leave – the District Superintendent and the Bishop left the church alone and didn’t move their pastor. For over thirty-five years he served that church. He was loved by the church and the community.
After he retired, he was replaced by a very young and inexperienced student pastor. It was his first church; he had a great desire to do well and did everything by the book, praying and hoping that the people would learn to love him like their last pastor.
After several weeks though, it became apparent that people were upset at him. That they didn’t like the way he was doing things. He realized he was troubled. Eventually he called aside one of the lay leaders of the church and said, "I don’t know what’s wrong, but I have a feeling that there’s something wrong."
The man said, "Well, Pastor, that’s true many people are upset with you and I hate to say it, but it’s the way you do the Communion service."
"The way I do the Communion service? What do you mean?"
"Well, it’s not so much what you do as what you leave out."
"I use the Book of worship. I don’t think I leave out anything from the Communion service."
"Oh yes, you do. Said the man. You don’t touch the radiator.
Touch the radiator? I have never heard of that liturgical tradition.
Well, every Sunday Just before our previous pastor administered the cup and the bread to the people, he’d always go over and touch the radiator. And, people just don’t feel like they’ve been to church if you don’t touch the radiator.
The younger man was perplexed. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t understand the significance behind touch the radiatoring before serving communion so he called the former pastor and He said, "I haven’t even been here a month, yet sir, and I’m in trouble."
"In trouble? Why?"
"Well, it’s something to do with touching the radiator during communion. Did you really do that? "
"Oh yes, I did. Always before I administered the chalice to the people, I touched the radiator to discharge the static electricity so I wouldn’t shock them."
For over thirty-five years,….tradition …forgot what communion is really about.
And that is the same thing Paul is accusing the Corinthian church of…. Tradition….more important tnen fellowsip with Christ.
The Corinthians were eating, drinking partying….etc….
But notice what Paul says in verse 27……
Unworthy ….virtually every translation translates it the same….not too sinful…misinterpreted….saddens my heart…never can be too sinful (that’s not to say we should practice repentance as a part of communion but that that was not what Paul was critizing the Corinthians about.)
It was a matter of their attitude as they approached the Lord’s Supper…..
When the Corinthians came to the table came to partake in the Lord’s supper they were divided, fighting amongst themselves, “clicks”……..
and paul is reminding they that there is but one loaf at the table, one body – that when we come to communion we become united in one body. that their divisions were not acceptable. He went on to explained that to participate in the meal and leave others out or allow division amongst themselves was tantamount to drinking and eating judgment upon themselves. The Lord’s supper unites s with all Christians everywhere
That is particularly evident today. Today is World Wide Communion Sunday. while we were sleeping, Christians in the Democratic Republic of Congo left their homes for places of worship to see their pastors take bread in their hands and declare, “This is my body.” In the Church of the Holy Resurrection in Jerusalem were heard the words, “This is my body.” In Saint Paul’s in London a hush fell across the congregation as the pastor declared, “This is my body. In thatched-roof mission stations across the islands of the Pacific this afternoon will be uttered, “This is my body.”
Throughout the world churches of all denominations, in all nations, in many languages, are celebrating the Lord’s Supper declaring together that “This is His body” That we are one in Christ.
And Paul is saying first and foremost that is how we are to approach communion as a unified body.
And then secondly Paul challenges us to come to the in respectful awe or what Jesus has done for us.