World Communion Sunday is celebrated by congregations around the globe. The first Sunday of October has become a time when Christians in every culture break bread and pour the cup to remember and affirm Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church. On that day, Christians everywhere remember that we are part of the whole body of believers. With this unique focus on the Table and on Christian unity, it should not surprise us, that this day is one of the "High Holidays" of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Whether the Table brings people together in a grand cathedral, a mud hut, outside on a hilltop, in a meetinghouse, or in a storefront, or whether the Table is made of wood or stone or represented by a blanket on the ground – God’s people around the globe gather in response to Christ’s invitation to give thanks for the gifts of God.
At Vine Street this year, we will celebrate World Communion Sunday with our friends from the Congo. Nouvelle Aliance has been worshiping on Fridays and Sundays in our chapel for several months now, and our worship committee and the leadership of Nouvelle Aliance decided to have our first joint worship service on this special day. We will sing familiar tunes with words in English, French, and Lingala. We will hear Scripture read in various languages as well, and our prayers will reflect the wonderful diversity of the body of Christ. All of us, no matter what journey has brought us to the table, no matter what language or culture has shaped us, all of us will come to the table with empty hands to receive the gifts of God for a hungry world, the gifts that make us whole.
It is no coincidence that in the afternoon of that day, we will have yet another celebration. In the fall of 1809, Thomas Campbell published a brief essay, Declaration and Address, a passionate call to Christian unity. That document became one of the key texts for the Stone-Campbell Movement and its vision of the church, and to this day it inspires the ministry of Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
In celebration of the bicentennial of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address Christians, congregations with roots in that movement will come together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on Sunday October 4, 2009. Here in Nashville, we will meet at 4PM at the West End Church of Christ; our own T.J. McLaughlin will direct a unity choir. There won’t be any preaching, only a brief statement about the historical importance of the occasion – both two-hundred years ago and today – and an invitation to what Campbell called “that great ordinance of Unity and Love.”