World Communion Sunday


by Jayson Whelpley

I wrote and adapted these comments from an acquaintance of mine, Jordan Rimmer. Jordan is the pastor of Westminster United Presbyterian Church in New Brighton, PA. Large portions of the script are Jordan's words exclusively.

Today, around the world, many churches are celebrating what they call "World Communion Sunday." We decided that this event would be a good time to think about, and talk more specifically about this event that some call "communion" or "the Eucharist” or - the name I grew up with -  "the Lord's Supper."

Starting about the time most of you were going to bed , it began in the Pacific islands of Kiribati. Asian Christians shared the bread and the wine. Churches in China met in secret so that they would not be arrested. Christians in the Middle East, some of whom were saved only by having dreams of Jesus, met under the watchful eye of the government as they celebrated the Eucharist. In Europe, Christians gathered in churches that used to be much fuller and celebrated the Lord’s Supper. In Africa the sacrament was celebrated in great numbers by a growing number of Christians, many of whom bear scars of persecution as they Commune together.

Those celebrating today include many churches some with whom we would partner with easily and some that we'd have serious disagreements with. Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Baptists, thousands of other denominations, and even those, like us, without denominations. Christ's followers met both in public and in secret. Some met in freedom while others gathered under threat of persecution and death. Some take the sacrament today with full-on bands, some with organ music, others with simple singing, and still others in quiet so as not to be arrested. In wealthy churches and in desperate poverty the sacrament is observed. In churches, homes, huts, and in God’s creation this seal of the covenant was experienced. The bread is given to people that could overeat all day and to people who had no idea what they would eat or where they would get it today.

The one thing in common – We all come to the same table of our Lord.

In many languages, by ordained clergy, volunteer pastors, or an MC something like these words from 1 Cor 11 introduce:

On the night He was betrayed Jesus took bread. And when he had given thanks and blessed it, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

The bread is many different types and colors and from many places. Some created primarily from wheat, others from rice or other kinds of grain. Some will have bread left over. Some with very small pieces that could barely give every Christian there a morsel. Still, it represented the body of Christ broken and it sustains the body of Christ around the world today.

Break Bread

In the same way after supper Jesus took the cup and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Drink you all of it.”

The "wine" around the world will be different. For many it will be wine, some will have juice, some will celebrate with water that had to be carried from a dirty well some miles away. Some will use individual cups, others fancy goblets, still others pass around whatever cup was in the home where they were meeting, and some, some have plastic martini glasses. Still, it represented the blood of the covenant in their place and in their communities, just as it does in ours.

Today, for the first time, we will have the option of both juice and wine.

Pour Cup

Communion is one of two “sacraments” that the Christian tradition we associate with recognizes - along with the baptism of believers. A sacrament is often defined as a “visible sign of an inward grace” – something we do to remember and remind ourselves of what Christ has already done and is continuing to do in our lives. This is a reminder that we share something in Jesus’ death, that his body being broken and his blood being shed really does something to, for and in us.

As I said last week, it’s a celebration - a celebration of our Lord’s death. The same way that we commemorate it on a Friday called “good,” but, like most Good Friday services it’s not something that is light-hearted, it’s not something to be laughed through, toyed with or taken lightly.

The same passage from 1 Corinthians continues:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Surrounding bringingsacrifices to the Temple, which is the Old Covenant act that is most similar to communion, Jesus instructed his followers this way:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24 ESV

So as we the table is opened, examine yourself for a moment. If there is sin to be confessed do it quickly. 1 John 1:8-9 says:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

You don’t need to scour your soul and confess every sin you’ve committed, if we confess, he cleanses us from our unconfessed unrighteousness that we’re not even aware of.

Let us pray, and the table will be open:

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we thank you for this sacrament of communion shared with Christians around the world. Pour out your Holy Spirit on those who partake—that we may be your body and the representation of your power, promises and covenant in our lives and throughout the world. Amen.

Today, as you come up, you will see there are three different types of bread. Remember as you see the plate all of those around the world with whom you share the table today.

New Location News

Antioch21 Church has a new permanent location!


Beginning this Sunday, May 4th, our weekly gathering will be held at 5:00pm at our new home-base located at 2320 E. Robinson Street Orlando, FL (building is on the southwest corner of E. Robinson St. and Bumby Ave. - entrances to parking are on both streets.)

Many  have been working tirelessly to prepare this new space for our church family to gather and all of the help, support, donations and prayers are much appreciated. There's more work to be done in the days and weeks ahead, but we look forward to be together with everyone and celebrate what God has done! Feel free to bring family and friends this Sunday to check out the new space. And it's potluck night, so bring a dish to share!

Click here to join the Facebook event.

Check out these snapshots from the recent volunteer work that has been done at the new Antioch21 Church location, by our very own A21 family!


Being Real with God

by Diana Abt

Recently, after looking back at the path of my short life, I observed what has seemed to have been a long, winding, up-and-down, emotional road; each turn stained with either sweet tears of joy or stinging tears of loss.  I consider “what could possibly lie on the way ahead me?”, “How familiar or foreign will the future journey be for me?” and “Do I even want to go there?” I wonder to myself if those are “ok” questions to ask.  “Is it okay to question or doubt God?”  In reading the words of David, whom God called a man after His own heart, I find relief in the way he openly expressed his emotions and questions to God. In the 13th chapter of Psalms, the transparent and vulnerable spirit behind David’s words draw me to also want to identify with God with that kind of exposure.  In loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we may express how we feel before God as a part of our spirituality.  David even expresses feeling forsaken by God.  Have you ever felt like God has forsaken you?  Have you ever told Him?  As sons and daughters of God, we are invited and accepted by God to bare all of ourselves before Him.  We are free to enter into His presence and not leave our emotions at the door.  He won’t take offense.  In fact, may it be a spiritual act of worship.  Take time to write a psalm to God.  You can read a recent one of mine below.  Expose yourself to Him and may you find rest in His presence.

Hiding Place

coming undone. speechless. baffled. at a loss. what do i believe? shaken. what's at the core? really? inconceivable. what? how? seriously? lost? found? centered? the blinders on race horses. please blow the whistle. could it be? what happened? what about them? can i? again? surreal. unattainable? attainable? in reach? selfish? i am silenced by your wondrous grace? what is love? question mark, question mark, question mark. pregunta. empty. vacia. conocimiento. entendiendo. Comprendes?

hmmmm. Uncertain. do you hear what i hear? what do i hear? what do i listen to? escucha. contesta. manipulation. false. Truth. what is it? music? what to do. go? GO? whenwherehowwhywhowhatif? for real? sigh. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. shhhhhhhhhhhh. quiet. still. in the secret. connect? why? are you real? are you real with me? am i? I AM. surface. deep. depths of. hole. Whole. well. soul. cavity. inverted. loooong. longing. who are u? representation. hungry. yearn. anhelo. living. water. tick. tock. this. is. it. Alive. Home.

- Diana Abt