Emphasizing the World in World Communion Sunday

I am sad to say that for the last couple years, I did not do a very good job of celebrating World Communion Sunday. Sure, we took communion, and we took the special denominational offering that funds scholarships and training. I also made passing comments in the announcements, pastoral prayer, and communion liturgy that acknowledged our desire to keep our brothers and sisters in faith around the world in mind. However, I feel like I missed the opportunity to facilitate a true understanding of the idea that we are all connected as the body of Christ.

As I thought back over whether I had ever experienced a truly impactful World Communion Sunday experience, I was reminded of services planned and lead by my former Senior Pastor, Rev. David Fuquay. One year, we showed images from a photography project called “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.”

TIME has a great gallery of 27 of the families from around the world featured in the project. The photos are exceptionally compelling as they show the families in the place where they typically eat surrounded by a typical week’s worth of food. It runs the gamut from overloaded dinning room tables to sacks on the ground outside. In the captions, we learn the families’ favorite foods as well as their expenditures for a regular week.

This family from Chad spent $1.23 on food in a week.

This family from Norway spent $731.73 on food in a week.

Another practice we did every couple of years was to have breads from “around the world” for communion. The altar would be covered with everything from fluffy white bread to naan to challah to matzo. Each communion station would have a different bread, and we bought more than we needed so that there was an opportunity to try the different breads after the service. It was a great way to engage with taste and texture in a way that was unique.

What made these activities memorable was that it emphasized the world in World Communion Sunday in a very real and tangible way. Our special litanies and explanations are important, but if we can find ways to bring the connection alive, it makes a deeper impact. We should use our creativity to engage different senses, encourage active participation, and learn the names and faces and stories of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

In the comments below, I would love to hear what you are planning for World Communion Sunday. What activities have worked well for you in the past? How have you intentionally set about making our worldwide connection real on this special Sunday?

Images in this post by Peter Menzel, from the book, “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats,” as featured on TIME.com

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