Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. (Matthew 21:43)
Tomorrow is World Communion Sunday, an ecumenical observance that travels the globe, connecting Christians from all over the world. Millions of liturgies will lead hundreds of millions of Christ-followers in a sacramental and symbolic act of unity, oneness, witness, and integration. One of my favorite lines from the United Methodist Book of Worship is our prayerful request to God, “By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.” For me, this sums it all up: God’s vision and will is a single body of believers – the body of Christ – fed by Jesus’ body and redeemed by Jesus’ blood for the transformation of the world.
This is what it means to “produce the fruits of the kingdom/kin*dom.” Over the centuries we have dissected and dismembered the body of Christ, like the wicked tenants in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 21, dividing over “jots and tittles” while the larger law of love goes unheeded. Our God is a God of unconditional love and unmerited forgiveness and grace. We are children of God and members of the body of Christ. Humans may form institutions and denominations, but that is our way of “protecting our vineyards,” and had nothing to do with the work and will of God.
World Communion Sunday is a truly blessed celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion that ignores human, worldly divisions and recognizes and affirms another sacrament, baptism. By our baptism we are recognized as beloved, redeemed, cherished children of God, and no one on earth can ever rescind the gift of grace God gives through our baptismal reception. As we celebrate World Communion Sunday this year, I invite us all to set aside our divisions and disagreements and pet peeves and instead enter into true Holy Communion – with Christ-followers around the planet. Feel yourself as part of something huge and eternal, the incarnate body of Christ – made one in faith, one in Spirit, one in baptism, and one in God’s love.
Thank you, God, first for the gift of your Son, Jesus the Christ, and second, for the gift of humankind in all of our difference and diversity. Help us to see your divine image in every person we meet, to celebrate their life and creation, and to share the grace and gospel of Jesus wherever and whenever we can. Make us ready to offer Christ freely and generously, but also with humility and compassion. Open our eyes and our hearts to see our connections instead of our divisions, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.