- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2000

Excerpts from a sermon by the Rev. William Hale at Knox Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, Va.

Today is World Communion Sunday, but this sermon has a question mark. Is such a communion possible in our mixed-up, divided world? We've seen a spirit of friendly competition pervade the Olympics. The athletes pursue good sportsmanship and a sense of community. But the Olympics come only every four years, and surely God would want world communion every day.

Is it true Lord, that You are asking us to live this way? Communion is an act of sharing. We in the church do that sharing in the gracious gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When we gather at the Communion table, to some degree we experience an intimate communion with Christ. But what about when we leave from here? …

Scripture says over and over that this world communion can happen. Paul, in Romans, speaks of us being transformed. He says we are to be devoted to one another in brotherly love. As Christians, we are called to practice hospitality… . Further in Romans, Paul reminds us why we are here today. He said that Jesus Christ came into the world to save us and all people, for we have all fallen short. It is part of God's plan, not just for within the church, but as part of God's kingdom plan.

John 3:16 says God so loved "the world." So He gave His Son, that those who believe in Him will have eternal life. In Genesis, God creates Adam and then says it was not good that man be alone, so He made him a partner for life. God is interested in communion, togetherness between people. It sounds good, but is it possible?

Let me describe two ways we might moved toward world communion in our hearts and minds. When we accept Christ, we chose a faith that is open to the possibility of God's providence in our lives. We accept the possibility of divine intervention in our lives.

That is what we read about in the book of Esther. In this intriguing book, only 10 chapters long, Esther finds herself queen in the empire as the prime minister issues a decree to exterminate the Jewish population. Esther was told by her adopted father Mordecai, "You have been put here for a special purpose." He says, "Perhaps this is why you have been brought to this place."

And she begins to live with a heightened sense of God's providence in her life, to do what God wants her to do. We also need to take advantage of the daily opportunities to seek how God's providence could possibly be working through our lives. You and I might also be called to heroic acts of faithfulness. A hero is an ordinary person who, in a crisis, moves to act and to help. Look at the effects of Esther's life in saving her people.

If you live with a sense of faith and providence, events in your life will not look like a coincidence. There is the possibility to see God in all the actions and situations of our lives. When we begin to do that, we can strive for world communion to exist.

This is the challenge we read in Mark 9, the challenge to "Be at peace with one another." That is the key to this kingdom idea of world communion. What had the disciples come to Jesus about [Mark 9:38-50]? They said, "Jesus, there's an unknown man over here, casting out demons in Your name." They were criticizing another man, whom they did not know, for doing a good act. They condemned him because, "He isn't one of us."

Jesus said, "Do not condemn this man. Let us be at peace with one another." Jesus came into the world not to condemn it, but to save it. We should live not in the spirit of criticism, but in the spirit of love and hope. In one Olympic moment, Laura Wilkinson won the diving competition in an upset. When the reporter came, the first thing she said was, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." She quoted Scripture for the whole world and shows us what we can do as well.

Next week: a sermon by the Rev. L. Samuel Martz at New Carrolton Bible Church.

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