Yesterday was World Communion Sunday. This communion liturgy is based on a sermon on Genesis 28:10-19 and lines 40-46 of the Brief Statement of Faith:
Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation. In everlasting love, the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people to bless all families of the earth. Hearing their cry, God delivered the children of Israel from the house of bondage.
Last week, we had discussed sin and evil and that state of separation from God that they cause. Adam and Eve may have been banned from the Garden, but God didn’t abandon us. Likewise, our self-examination of our sin isn’t meant to leave us in a state of condemnation and separation from God. Instead, God pursues a relationship with us. In Genesis 28:10-19, the Lord stands beside Jacob – the deceiver, the liar, the coward – and repeats the covenantal promises that God has made for two generations. God wants Jacob to know that these promises are for him. God also tells Jacob that God is with him, God will keep him and God will not abandon him until God has fulfilled all of these promises.
When we doubt whether God’s promises are for us, we carry around a burden that God does not mean for us to carry. We add unnecessary weight that burdens and weighs us down – unwilling to set it down and claim God’s promises for ourselves. But regardless of the burden we carry, God’s promise to be with us is an invitation to let our prayers of worry become prayers of thanksgiving because God has promised that God is with us, will keep us, and will not leave us until God brings us home.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
God, in your sovereign love, you made the world good. You have sought and pursued us, even as we try to runaway from you. When the realities and sufferings of life or the consequences of our sin overtake us and we cry out to you – you hear our cry. Just as you were with Jacob in the wilderness and you brought Israel out of Egypt, you deliver us from the house of bondage. For this we are thankful.
Jesus, in your grace, you have made real the ancient stories of God’s redemption and deliverance. You healed the sick, you released the captives, you invited the outcast. And we bear witness to how you are healing, releasing, and inviting us yet today. You call us brother and sister; you share your birthright with us. For this we are thankful.
Holy Spirit, in your communion, you bind us to Christ and one another. You create in us hope for the future and strength for today. Your wisdom guides us so that we may share the love, grace and communion of the Triune God with the world. For this we are thankful.
Holy Spirit, make your presence known today in a mighty way. In the bread that feeds our bodies and the cup the quenches our thirst, may we know the love of Christ. We pray this not just for those in this room but for those not able to join us to whom the elements will go out, so that we may be in communion in Jesus’ name. We pray this for the Church around the world knowing that despite denominational, ethnic, language, gender, geographical differences, and even life and death, we are one Body as we share this meal.
To you we give thanks as we continue to pray, in the words most familiar to each of us, Our Father…
It’s time to set down our sin and feelings of condemnation. It’s time to let go of that heavy load. It’s time to believe and experience God’s covenantal promises. And it’s time to let go of what divides us. This Table is meant bring us into communion, and we don’t get to choose who eats here. Jesus has said that they will come from the east and the west, the north and the south to sit at the Table of God.
As we sit at our tables today, we share this meal in the way that Jesus shared it with his disciples. We remember how he took the bread, gave thanks for it, broke it and said, “This is my body broken for you.” And likewise, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is cup of the new covenant, my blood shed for the forgiveness of sins.”
Each time we share this meal, we proclaim that though we may deserve God’s condemnation, we have received God’s grace. We proclaim to ourselves and a world in need, that love overcomes anything that threatens to separate us from God or one another.
Now, you are invited to serve one another the bread of life and the cup of salvation. The gifts of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
Prayer After Communion
Loving and present God, where can we go from your spirit? Or where can we flee from your presence? You pursue us with faithfulness and grace even as we may run or wander away. In your Word and through your Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, you have promised that you are with us, that you keep us and that you will bring us home. In this moment, we claim these promises. We claim them for your Church and also for ourselves. Help us to trust you and find rest in your promises as you lead us in the way everlasting. Amen.