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Home > Interpreter Magazine > Archives > 2003 Archives > October 2003 > Worship Model: A Service Celebrating World Communion, Oct. 5

Worship Model: A Service Celebrating World Communion, Oct. 5

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Each month, United Methodist seminary students--and others--will offer worship ideas for Sunday service and other special celebration. We hope pastors and worship leaders will use these fresh ideas from our seminaries.

Preparation and Setting

Sunday, Oct. 5, marks the 67th year World Communion Sunday has been celebrated around the globe. It was originated by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1936, and from the beginning, the Presbyterians hoped that other denominations would join in. After a few years, the celebration spread.

As you congregation gathers for worship, remember our conviction that all believers, all around the world are one in Christ and one with each other, no matter what country we're from or what language we speak.

There are many ways to celebrate the unity we share in Christ. Prayers in different languages, specially-baked bread (see below), and hymns from different traditions can be important parts of the service.

Some Ideas for the Service

Baking and serving breads from around the world is a good way to remember that as people from different cultures, food—and bread especially—is central to all our lives. You can probably find pita bread, tortillas, Italian bread and more in your local grocery store to serve during communion.

You might also ask members of your congregation to bake bread from their own cultural heritages to share at communion. Or, go to , where you'll find dozens of recipes for breads ranging from traditional to uncommon ethnic. Native American Fry Bread, Indian Roti, and Irish brown bread, Ancient Essene Bread, Chinese Pan Bread—these are some of the recipes you'll find.

Bake them for communion, or serve them after church during the fellowship time.

Use songs sung in other languages. (See hymn suggestions below.) Incorporate musical instruments from other cultures—drums, maracas, flutes—into worship. Read scripture aloud in different languages. Members who are studying other languages as well as members for whom your worship language is not native to them could be asked to read.

Research Christian worship and communion customs from other cultures.

*These and other ideas can be found at

Call to Worship

Leader: We gather today from the busyness of life to receive strength.
People: We come as a people of God to excel in your work through breaking the bread and drinking the cup.
Leader: We are a global church with a global task to bring love and joy.
People: Through this sacrament, we receive power to be faithful in love to serve the people of the world.
—from The United Methodist 2003 World Communion litany
by Dr. Berty Hakeem, First Church, Dixon, Ill.

Intercessory Prayer

Leader: Where there is fear I can allay, and pain I can heal
People: Lord, grant me courage and strength.
Leader: Where there is hate I can confront, where there are yokes I can release
People: Lord, grant me courage and strength.
Leader: Where there are captives I can free, and anger I can appease
People: Lord, grant me courage and strength.
Leader: When comes the day I dread and I see how broken is the world
People: Lord, grant me courage and strength.
Leader: And when I have done all that I could and still there are hearts I cannot move
People: Lord, grant me hope and compassion, now and always.
—adapted from a Jesuit prayer

Suggested Hymns

• "We Gather Together" (No. 131, United Methodist Hymnal)
• "O God of Every Nation" (No. 435, UMH)
• "Camina, pueblo de Dios"(No. 305, UMH)
• "Help Us Accept Each Other" (No. 560, UMH)
• "Where He Leads Me" (No. 42, Songs of Zion)
• "What Shall I Render?" (No. 190, SOZ)
• "Go Forth For God" (No. 670, UMH)


Lectionary texts for today are Job 1:1; 2:1-10; Psalm 26 or Psalm 25 (No. 756, UMH);Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12; Mark 10:2-16

Additional texts you might consider in observance of World Communion Sunday:

I Corinthians 15:58: "Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain"

This text is a beautiful call to do the Lord's work in the world, an appropriate theme for peacemaking and global ministry.

Revelation 21:1-5a: The vision of a new heaven and a new earth "See, I am making all things new."

(This is a stirring call to hope, and to remembering that our God is strong, compassionate and faithful.)

Ephesians 2:17-22: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God."

(This text is a powerful statement that Christ is the foundation, the cornerstone of our faith. This is a clear affirmation of the Christ we, all of us, believers around the world, hold in common.)

Psalm 104:14-14: "You cause …plants to bring forth…wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart."

(This psalm is a hymn of praise thanking God for all the gifts of the earth, including bread and wine. It is a fitting passage for celebrating communion.)

Sermon Notes

The "additional texts" above lend themselves to a deep meditation on God's generosity to the world and of our responsibility to show our gratitude by our care for that world and our actions in it. Strong images ("new heaven and new earth," Christ as the sure foundation, the reminder that our labor is "not in vain") provide clear calls to gratitude, celebration and peacemaking.

In an October, 2000 World Communion sermon, Dan Ivins talked of Gamaliel's action recorded in Acts 5:27-29. A big-spirited rabbi, Gamaliel urged the Jewish authorities to let the disciples they had arrested go free. According to Ivins, Gamaliel had a universal outlook toward others that made him compassionate and caring. Is this not what it means to share Christ's spirit of universal love? (To read the entire sermon, go to

Prayers of the People

If appropriate for your congregation, ask people to share their joys and concerns in a time of prayer. Today, ask them to name their joys by lifting up places in the world where they see God at work. After some time, invite them to turn their prayers towards their concerns—places in the world which are in need of God's care.

Prayer Before Communion

Jesus, you are the Bread of Life, bread broken to mend all broken dreams, broken people, broken homes and broken hearts.
Break the good news gently
to suffering, struggling spirits,
that you are nourishment to anyone
who hungers for life. Amen
—adapted from God-With-Us by Miriam Therese Winter

Benediction and Sending Forth

Remember now, with all our sisters and brothers all around the world,
Christ has redeemed us by love
Christ has shaped us with compassion
Christ has gifted us with the hunger for peace.
Go forth now, and do the work of the Lord.

—Helen R. Neinast is the former United Methodist campus minister at Emory University in Atlanta. She is a writer, retreat leader and spiritual director who lives in the mountains of North Georgia. Her latest book, co-authored with her husband, Tom Ettinger, is God Goes to College: Living Faith on Campus. Helen is a member of the New Mexico Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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