Skip to content

World Communion Day/Observance of the Lord’s Supper

October 1, 2006

Jonah
Clare and I have been gone all week to a beautiful part of the universe, Pawley’s Island. I have been doing research for the Christmas story there, gathering interesting stories from various individuals I met during the week. I actually interviewed several sea captains. Thursday, I went to the Georgetown Lighthouse. This year’s story is more complicated, so it required me to complete quite a bit of research. I have not written a word of my story yet. The writing will come in November.

On Friday afternoon, Clare wanted to do a little shopping at some of her favorite stores, the Pawley’s Island hammock shops. Though these shops are famous for hammocks, many other items are available to purchase. I was greatly relieved that we actually bought only two birthday cards. One shop that caught our eye had a sign out front that read, “Pawley’s Island Afghans.” The shopkeeper was pressing toward quitting time, removing items off the front porch and storing them inside. Clearly, she did not own the shop and did not care whether customers came. She just wanted to leave. Our daring to enter the shop within a half-hour of quitting time was of great trouble to her.

Because I did not know what a Pawley’s Island Afghan was, I said, “Tell me about Pawley’s Island Afghans.”

A strange expression crossed her face before she answered, “A Pawley’s Island afghan is a little wrap woven out of cloth. You know, last week a woman came in here and asked me the same question. She wondered if people from Afghanistan were working here because of the sign. I told her I did not think we have anyone from Afghanistan on Pawley’s Island.’”

The possibility of people from Afghanistan at Pawley’s Island seemed odd to me. Could anything be stranger than that? Yes, a Jew in Nineveh would be stranger. Jonah could not imagine that God would send him to a place he considered out-of-the-way. To God, however, Nineveh had an important role in the grand scope of things. God deemed the people there the most ungodly in the world.

Because Jonah could not imagine going to Nineveh, he decided to take the direction of his life into his own hands. He headed on a completely different course, to Tarshish. He first traveled to the town of Joppa, which is a wonderful seaport, caught a boat, and headed out to sea. You know how the story unfolds as a terrible storm frightened the sailors. Believing somebody was at fault for the terrible weather, they cast lots. When the lots fell on Jonah, he confessed, “I am at fault. I am the one who has done this.” In desperation, the sailors pitched him overboard. An enormous fish swallowed Jonah.

Jonah was a bitter man. He was bitter at God. He was bitter that God would even consider bringing the message of salvation to anyone other than the Jews. He was bitter toward the people of Nineveh. Jonah was so bitter that even the big fish could not stomach him for long. The fish vomited Jonah onto the beach.

The next scene unfolds with God calling Jonah a second time to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah was obedient, but he delivered perhaps the shortest sermon in the Bible. Maybe its brevity is the reason for its effectiveness. Jonah declared, “You have about forty days to change your ways. If you do not, you are going to be toast. God will completely destroy you.” Nineveh’s king, having heard the message, sent word out to all of the citizens of the country. In something similar to a Billy Graham revival, thousands of people became believers. Thus, God, in His compassion, saved the entire city from destruction.

You may think it odd that I would use a passage that deals with Jonah for today, which is World Communion Sunday. How can a communion meditation come from the story of Jonah being thrown overboard and swallowed by a fish? The story of Jonah and Nineveh shows God’s grace to people who are very different from Jonah. It shows God’s grace to people who are very different from us. Do you know where Nineveh is? This great city was located just a few miles north of present-day Baghdad. Nineveh was in Iraq. The message of God to the people of that part of the world then and the message of God to people in that part of the world now is the same: God is a God of grace; God is a God of mercy. He is a God of grace and mercy to everyone, not just to people with whom we are comfortable. God is a God of grace to the whole world.

You have heard the good news “For God so loved the world…” That “world” includes Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the Sudan, and the little country of Chad. It includes places like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Libya. It includes the former Soviet Union, the nations of Africa and South America, including Venezuela. It includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico. God so loved the world that He sent Jesus, the perfect symbol, the perfect expression, of his love. He sent Jesus to impart grace to the whole world.

Today is important because on this day, people in Baghdad are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. They will take the bread and the cup. People in Afghanistan and people in every part of the world who profess Jesus Christ as their Savior will take the same elements we have here at this table. They will celebrate the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, grace that pardons and cleanses us, just as we, too, celebrate that gift of grace.

When we come to this table, we must always remember that this is not our table. This is not a Baptist table. It certainly is not a Morningside table. The Lord’s Table extends and extends and extends across the face of the earth. We may not like some people in the world. We may have enmity in our hearts against them, but God does not view the people of the world that way. God so loved the world, the whole world and He wants us to be agents of His grace to all, not just to a few.

We come to take these elements, celebrating the amazing grace of God that is for the whole world. Let us take this supper together.

On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. He blessed it and broke it. He said, “This is my body, broken for you.” Let us have a prayer of blessing for the bread.

Dear Lord Jesus, through your death on the cruel cross, through the gift of your body to be broken for all people, you prepared the way for anyone willing to be saved. Now, as we receive this bread, we give thanks for your great love and sacrifice. Amen.

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.

Jesus said, “This bread is my body broken for you.” Eat this as often as you eat it in remembrance of him. Eat ye all of it.

We are going to have a prayer of blessing now for the cup.

Most gracious heavenly Father, we are grateful that we can come together as a part of Your family, the family of God. We remember what was done for us on Calvary. Jesus’ body was broken and his blood shed so that we could have eternal life. Now, as we take this cup, we thank You for Your saving grace and unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

The Lord Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” Drink it as often as you drink it in remembrance of him. Drink ye all of it.

When we come to this service, every single one of us makes a decision, a recommitment of our lives because of the great love Jesus has for us, a love supremely evident on the cross. Maybe on this World Communion Sunday, God has given you a heart for the world, and you know that He is impressing upon you that you should, in some way, become involved in missions. If that is the case, we invite you to make that decision. Some of you have never made the decision to acknowledge Jesus as your Savior. We invite you to make that decision today. Invite him to come into your life. Open your heart to him, and allow him to be your Lord and Savior. Some here today have been considering membership at Morningside. This is the day of commitment, the day for you to make a decision to allow Morningside to be your church family. As we stand together and sing our hymn of commitment, “More Love to Thee, O Christ,” you respond as God leads.

© 2006 Kirk H. Neely

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: