Hebrews 1: 1-4, 2:5-12
O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
- Psalm 8: 1
This Sunday, the first Sunday of October, is World Communion Sunday. We will join with diverse followers of Jesus around the world to experience his presence in the broken bread and the cup.
Our “Communion” always includes thanksgiving to God for coming to us “in the flesh” of Jesus. We say that the Father sent the Son into the world to be God-with-us, “Emmanuel.” If you “got” this message, have grasped it, taken it to heart, it is a wonderful miracle. For many people, though, the notion that little pieces of bread and a little cup of juice can somehow connect a person to God-in-the-flesh is just weird. If you “get” this connection, it is a gift from God which is humanly impossible to make another person understand. Each person must “get it” in their own personal encounter with the risen Jesus Christ.
In a similar way, we religious people may think or say that it’s obvious that God’s creation is completely wonderful. We may say and believe that we see God’s Creative touch in puppies and kittens and rainbows and sunsets: that all of nature invites us to praise the Creator. But we know that many humans are angry with God for allowing “natural” things like cancer, infections, earthquakes, typhoons, and mosquitoes. You may list a lot more “natural” things that you don’t like and aren’t thankful for. And then there’s the human part of nature! The book of Genesis says, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Well, we all know various ways that this creation story has played out in our life-stories, in our own families. More often than not, we don’t halfway understand why couples come together. Often, we see couples fail to keep it together. And that’s not even addressing the human nature that many of us only recently discovered among same-gender loving couples. In the midst of all of this “nature,” we come together in Communion to thank the Creator for life and love and salvation through Jesus Christ.
We are mysterious bearers of the image of the majestic God Who created the heavens and earth.
Our Service of Holy Communion for this Sunday includes parts of one written by the Rev. Dr. Laurel Koepf Taylor, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Eden Theological Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri. She also wrote the following, to help us see the connection between God’s creation of humans and our service of Holy Communion.
“The creation stories in Genesis 1-3 have become the source of much contention over the years. For many, such political and theological conflicts are the first thing that comes to mind when these narratives are mentioned. For others, the use of gender, particularly in Genesis 2-3, has been hurtful and oppressive. Yet much of the rhetoric that so many have found to be harmful is more in the interpretation of the text than in the text itself and contemporary interpreters have uncovered other potential layers of meaning that can be life-giving and empowering. In her 1986 book, God and The Rhetoric of Sexuality, Phyllis Trible argued that Genesis 2:7 describes God's creation of a human being and that therefore this week's lectionary reading is less about the creation of woman from man, and more about the creation of gender in the splitting of that first human into two beings. Whether or not one agrees with Trible's reading of Genesis 2, the creation of two people from one creates something new in addition to a second person; it creates mutual relationship. This first relationship is unique specifically in its mutuality, as made clear by the text's insistence that it is necessary in spite of the already existing divine-human relationship, and its vivid description of all of the animals God creates in verses 19 and 20, none of whom are found to be fitting partners. When the two humans finally meet in verse 23, it is a meeting of equals. Their relationship is unlike that humans have with God or animals, ‘This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.’
In this way, Genesis 2 describes the divine creation of relationship, of community, of intimate communication, of sharing. Each of these are also meanings of the word we use to describe the sacred meal we celebrate this week: communion. It is the moment in which we look at one another and at our world community and say that we together are the body of Christ, ‘This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!’”
( You can find this entire service of Holy Communion and the author's notes at http://www.uccfiles.com/rtf/ww100718.rtf )