Lamentations 1:1-6 and 3:19-26
Luke 17: 5 – 10
This Sunday is World Communion Sunday. Many churches around the world participate with us in this sign of unity as followers of Jesus Christ. The United Church of Christ desires to unite with all Christians everywhere as much as possible, to work at fulfilling Jesus’ prayer, “that they may all be one” – so World Communion reflects our basic values.
The words of the Communion prayers we usually use at Bethel state this clearly: “With the faithful in every place and time, we praise with joy Your holy name. Holy, holy, holy....”
Another part of our worship this week will be the gathering of the annual Neighbors In Need offering. While two-thirds of this offering supports Justice and Witness ministries of the United Church of Christ, one-third of our gift goes to the Council for American Indian Ministries (CAIM). CAIM is the voice for American Indian people in the UCC. CAIM provides Christian ministry and witness to American Indians and to the wider church. Justice issues that affect American Indian life are communicated to the whole UCC by CAIM.
Historically, the forebears of the UCC established churches and worked with Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arickara, and Hocak in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and northern Nebraska. Today there are 20 UCC congregations on reservations and one urban, multi-tribal UCC congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. CAIM supports these local churches and their pastors. In addition, CAIM strives to be a resource for more than 1,000 individuals from dozens of other tribes and nations who are members of other UCC congregations and to strengthen their participation in the life of the church.
Mike Goze, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and of the All Nations Indian Church in Minneapolis, is a member of CAIM’s Executive Committee. He shares the following thoughts:
“Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, writes a fictionalized story of young Arnold Spirit, a reservation son, who asked his parents who had the most hope and where he could find hope. A parent tells him, you go where there is the most hope and add your hope to theirs and others will add their hope. You add hope upon hope and that is where there is the most hope. It seems obvious.
“Our greatest hope of being and doing the ministry God calls us to be is to add our hopes together with yours and strengthen our whole human family.”
This World Communion Sunday, we will hear these hopeful words:
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice,
but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. ...
I am not ashamed, for I know the One in Whom I have put my trust,
and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day
what I have entrusted to Him.
2 Timothy 1: 7 and 12
Until “that day” comes, we live to love God and to love our neighbors, all around the world.