Yesterday was World Communion Sunday among the Christians. It meant that, starting with Pacific archipelagos, traveling through Asia, Australia, and on to Africa and Europe and the Americas, people in churches everywhere celebrated the Lord’s Supper in the same 24 hours. A whole world of people sharing a feast! In my own congregation, flags from many countries hung around the sanctuary for worship. We had pita and chapati and tortillas and banana bread and honey-wheat bread- representing breads from around the world- for communion with our wine and grape juice. We sang in languages of African and European origins. We generally reminded ourselves of all God’s people everywhere and reminded ourselves that we exist to praise God and love our neighbor who, in this age, could be anywhere on the planet. I love thinking about being in communion with people all around the world. I guess that’s one of the joys of internet living- being in contact. Each morning I wake up to read an e-mail containing the day’s selected scripture readings from various books in the Bible. There is an organization of many world-wide Christian denominations which decides which will be the scriptures for each day so that, in a period of three years, every part of the Bible will be read before starting over on a new lectionary cycle. As I read in the morning, I love to think about others all over the world reading and mulling over the same verses I am contemplating, each in her own language. Some verses are soaring, some comforting, some instructive, some perplexing, some harsh, some seeming impossible to decipher, some pure love, but all worth thinking about and taking to heart in one way or another.
I love to travel and see how other people do things; listen to the cadences of their speech, watch their dress and etiquette habits, smell their odors, and feel their atmosphere, along with tasting their foods. I love to feel a part of the same eccentric family together, and share the same planet. I don’t, however, really need to go very far to do that. All I need to do to experience someone else’s culture is to get up on Sunday morning and take this white, middle-aged body for a drive over to a Black church or to a Spanish-speaking church to participate in a meaningful way in someone else’s life. At a Black church of a different Christian denomination than mine, I have felt as though we were all in a lifeboat together, having just been saved from a shipwreck, and all thanking God together for our safe passage. At a Spanish-speaking church of the same denomination as mine, I have heard the lay pastor preach a sermon based on one scripture in Spanish, then turn right around and preach a sermon with a slightly different point based on the same scripture in English. All without notes. Remarkable, especially for one who makes a different living during the weekdays. If I keep studying, one day I might be able to participate in a Chinese church in my own city, and experience yet another culture within my reach.
This very small painting reminds me of what the windshield looks like while driving at night in bad weather; the windshield wipers don’t really keep up with the precipitation, and the driver isn’t sure what he is seeing out there. Our relationships with other people and , of course, the relationships between religions and countries are often like that- a bit blinding and quite uncertain. It helps to travel with another set of eyes in the passenger seat to help interpret what you are seeing and to keep you out of trouble. I like feeling that someone different from me is watching out for my welfare, as I am for hers.