Sunday, October 1, 2017

World Communion Sunday/Peace & Global Witness Offering

Isaiah 58

Submitted by Rev. Jessica Hawkinson, Associate Chaplain, Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house . . .
then you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

Reflection: World Communion Sunday has always been one of the most meaningful Sundays in the Christian year for me because it reminds me to consider the purpose the church has to serve beyond its walls, state lines, and national borders. This text from Isaiah 58 was also one that I chose for my ordination service as a personal reminder that my call to ministry is rooted in peacemaking and justice-seeking efforts. In my experience, peacemaking work is most successful when it is endowed with the passion and commitment of both communities and individuals. When we come from north and south and east and west to sit at God’s table in communion, we gather with a spectacular diversity of perspectives, experiences, and gifts. Some of us have bread, and others are hungry. Some of us are poor, others have more than abundant resources. When we gather in communion, it is also true that the oppressor and oppressed join at the table, the one burdened by the yoke, and the one placing it on shoulders. It is a theological and spiritual quandary that has burdened and enlivened the church since its beginning. The challenge is that we are not granted the title of “repairer of the breach” until we do the good work we are called to do.

Action: Practice innovative ways of worship and consider using liturgy that celebrates intentional partnerships with the world’s wider church family. Consider using hymns like “For Everyone Born” in your worship service—it can be found in Glory to God, 769. What would “choosing the fast” from Isaiah 58 mean for your congregation, community, and world?

Prayer: World-creating and peace-inspiring God, you call us to sit at one table together, even as we celebrate our differences. Renew your gathering invitation to us and help us to respond with glad hearts to the joyful feast of your people. Amen.

Jessica Hawkinson is Associate Chaplain and Director of the Lux Summer Theological Institute for Youth at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois. She previously served for two years at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and as a member of the PCUSA Peace Discernment steering team. She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (M. Div) and Macalester College.

This year’s Path of Peace reflections are based on the Five Affirmations to Guide the Peacemaking Witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Writers were recruited to help us explore the following affirmations as each week of A Season of Peace unfolds:

  1. Peacemaking is essential to our faith.
  2. We have sinned by participating in acts of violence.
  3. We reclaim the power of nonviolent love.
  4. We commit to the study and practice of nonviolence.
  5. We will practice boldly the things that make for peace.

Each author writes Monday–Friday, beginning with the first affirmation and ending with the fifth. The authors represent a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts, and each week presents a new ‘voice’ to walk you through the affirmations. The weekend devotions, written by the editor, also reflect the five affirmations. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 3, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 1.

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