Dr. Hugh Thompson Kerr, the senior pastor in the early 1930s at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, conceived the idea of a World Wide Communion Sunday when he served as moderator of the Presbyterians’ general assembly. It was first adopted for worship at Shadyside, and the idea quickly grew to link many of the “ecumenical” churches, and it was from the beginning an expression of unity in faith regardless of the liturgical and connection backgrounds.
It was the attempt of those early supporters of the service, records show, to “bring churches together in a service of Christian unity – in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another.” Not surprisingly, during World War II the idea and practice spread, churches embracing the idea that we are one in the Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of the meditations for World Communion Sunday this year is from the United Methodists:
If I really had faith the size of a mustard seed, what would I do?
Would I wave a hand to hurl Mount Kilimanjaro into Lake Victoria just to prove that I could?
If I really had mustard-seed faith, what would I do?
Would I start by extending a hand of peace to the church across the street whose sign says something different from mine?
Would I start by extending a hand of peace to those that terrorize the old people down the street? Or to the grizzled homeless man who sits on the corner with a sign?
Would I start by extending my hand of peace to those who brawl on schoolyards and to those who brawl on battlefields in search of a future with hope?
Maybe I could begin by just taking my hand of peace out of its hiding place long before the moment that I cup my hands to receive Communion.
O, Lord, increase our faith!
There is one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all (Ephesians 4:4)
Simple, direct, compelling. Enough to live by.