A Call to Communion
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
United Church of Strafford, Vermont
[You can watch the video recording of this message at the end of this text and you can see the entire On Line Service by clicking here.]
We have not had communion since we suspended worship in March. I planned to come as close as we could to breaking bread together this Sunday on our Zoom call, but how can we have communion right now when we are painfully aware that social, economic and environmental injustice are keeping so many from the table? How can we savor our silver and rich bread when we know so many are hungry for a life that systemic racism is denying them?
How can we enjoy communion in this pure, peaceful environment when the White House is removing regulatory restraints resulting in even worse health for the poorest and most oppressed?
How can we gain any comfort from communion when we know that the new rise in employment has left women of all races and Hispanic and African American men far behind?
When the median net worth for a white family is $134,000, but the median net worth for a Hispanic family is $14,000, and for a Black family is $11,000?
When black unemployment is twice as high as white unemployment, even among black college graduates?
When race determines how safe people are, the quality of their health care, the quality of their children’s education?
How can we gain comfort from communion when Black babies are over twice as likely to die before reaching their 1st birthday and Black mothers are three times as likely to die during childbirth and Black, Hispanic and Native American mothers are two to three times as likely not to receive proper prenatal care?
What does communion mean in a world of systemic racism and oppression?
God says through the prophet Isaiah, “Your appointed festivals my soul hates… Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Make yourselves clean…; seek justice, rescue the oppressed.” (1:14ff)
The prophet Micah cries out, “‘With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high…? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6ff)
This is the communion that Jesus is calling us to now to feed the poor, free the oppressed, love unconditionally people of all races and cultures: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:37ff)
Jesus is not waiting for us here, he is waiting for us out there. The church has been called out of the building, into our community, into our region, nation and world. As God told Moses and Aaron on that urgent night of liberation from slavery, “This is how you shall eat: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly.” (Exodus 12:11)
The time is now, the urgency is extreme, our democracy, our society of human rights and humane ideals will crumble if we do not rise to restore all to the communion table. The human race is in its last few years before an inexorable slide toward extinction if we do not restore communion with the earth.
It is time for us to serve those our way of life and our privilege enslaved, it is time for us to listen to the voices that have been silenced too long, and if we speak, to speak so that they will be heard and the world be transformed.
Every time we have come to this table we have received all the richness of God’s grace, all the love and light of Christ, all the comfort and power of the Spirit, and now it is time for us to carry our communion out and serve those who have been shut out, and be fed by feeding others what they need.
Let us go out seeing oneness, preaching oneness and not resting until we build a new earth that is truly one.
Let us go out not as supporters of one cause or another but as supporters of all causes that promote the sacredness of life, and compassion for the vulnerable and oppressed, and love of neighbor and the Golden Rule. Join the Strafford Climate group or the new Strafford Anti-racist group or whatever group calls to you and
rejoice in the vision of returning to this table when we have laid down our lives teaching and protesting and voting and feeding and liberating and changing laws and creating models of oneness and love.
Let that be our communion. Let every meal we eat, every prayer we make, every breath we take, be dedicated to playing our part in the movement to establish the realm of God on earth. Then our every thought, our every act will be communion with one another, and with all those who long to have a place at the table, and with Jesus who gave his life for this cause.
Let us pray in silence, fasting to strengthen ourselves with self-restraint, aware of all who are looking to us now, and let us ask the Spirit to help us see how we can use our gifts and time and work together as one…
Wow, Tom. Your words in this call to communion are so powerful and meaningful to me. Thank you for the thought, passion and love that you put in to each word.
With so much gratitude for your presence,