One of the coolest celebrations in the church that I know of is the World Communion Sunday. While it is not a “High Holy Day,” it is a recognition day helping us to realize that when we take communion we are doing so with people all over the world. This is incredibly important in the life of the church because it reminds us that we are not alone, that our congregation is part of a bigger Christian experience.
Often in churches, even in connectional traditions like ours, it is easy to forget that our way is not the only way and our expression of faith is not the only expression. Understanding this makes all the difference in the world when it comes to our faith development because it helps us to see that we are not the lone beacon of Christ, merely another expression of it.
When we take time to recognize this, we begin to open ourselves up to a more full picture of God’s presence in the world, in our church, and in ourselves. Think when we take the bread this Sunday, churches all around the world are doing the same thing. And though the languages and some of the words used may be different, each celebration is a true expression of God’s Grace and compassion in this world.
Only when we accept that we are part of a larger movement and expression of faith can we begin to be fully inclusive of God and each other. You see, we cannot accept others if we cannot accept that they may have a vastly different but equally legitimate understanding of God. When we accept this fine point we begin to walk through our faith journey humbly accepting that our way is good but not the only way.
I often joke that the unique thing about Presbyterian theology and approach to leadership is that in any discussion we have to check ourselves and admit that we are not going to be right. We are also called to enter with open minds, ready to accept that others may have a legitimate answer. Thus, when we act as a church it is not to come up with the absolute right answer, but to seek the best answer for the situation at hand, since the needs and the people are always changing, making what is right and what is wrong ever-changing too.
By accepting that our way is not perfect, we begin to open ourselves to a better understanding of the vastness of God, allowing our relationship with God to grow stronger. The truth that there is no true or perfect expression of faith, helps us to learn to accept and grow in our own expression, since that calls us to be open to new realities and understandings that help us to grow closer to God.
Think about it this way. If you were taught about faith as a child and that is the same faith you have today as a full grown adult, that faith would not be sufficient to sustain you through all that life held because the context of your life would require a deeper and more nuanced faith. This change in an understanding of God can only come from the influences of others, and while you do not necessarily change the underlying trust in Jesus Christ, you do change how your faith is applied within your life.
This is really important to helping us to grow deeper in faith. While this is something we should remember every time we take communion, we set this Sunday aside to be a special one to bring us back to the humble reality that we are just one part of the vast body of Christ, and when we accept and recognize that place, we become something more and begin to live into what it means to be a Christian in this world.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen