World Communion Sunday always makes me think of one of my first inter-cultural communion experiences. When I was 20 I spent my summer as a Global Intern with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. I itinerated around the country for 3 months, visiting different parishes and ministries of this West African partner denomination. One Sunday, when I was about as far north as I traveled the whole summer, and definitely the farthest from the creature comforts of home, such as refrigeration, I was blessed to celebration communion with a very small, very rural congregation. "Celebrate" in the solemn reverent sense in this congregation, not "celebrate" in the joyous sense. As the pastor when through the liturgy the people of the church all bowed their heads with eyes closed, not my favorite way to experience the sacrament, which for me just screams for open-eye prayer! But when in Ghana, do as the Ghanaians do, right?
Well, as the liturgy continued in a super silent sanctuary, I suddenly heard a very distinctive sound - - POP! Hssssss.... Rattle rattle (Doesn't work so well typing it out, does it?) Well, anyway, I knew that sound. It was definitely a Coke bottle. My head popped up in an instant. Who the heck was pouring a drink at a time like this? My head returned to its proper position, but when I heard the noise again it snapped up much faster.
Then I saw it. The Coke bottle. (HA! I was right!) But it wasn't in the hands of an unruly worshipper; it was in the hands of the pastor! There he was, pouring the Coke into the chalice and all of the little individual cups. In a land of no refrigeration and definitely no alcohol (a STRONG no-no for Presbyterians in Ghana, even in communion) Coke was the safest, cheapest, and most readily available liquid to use in communion. Welch's grape juice would have been worth it's weight in gold.
I have to tell you, when I went to seminary a few years later, I had a very different answer to the often used case study question, "What would you say to the youth group when they ask you if they can use Coke and pizza for a communion service?"
So, not much to do with the texts this week, but I had to share my favorite World Communion Sunday story!!! I'll make sure the Coke (and diet) is flowing today for any who come to prepare. Join us in the discussions and we'll what we have together!