Oct. 2 — World Communion Sunday (Today)
Moment for Mission
“[God] who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” — 2 Timothy 1:9
This first Sunday in October, we join together to celebrate World Communion Sunday. When we partake in the act of communion in The United Methodist Church, we believe “the past, present, and future of the living Christ come together by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we may receive and embody Jesus Christ as God’s saving gift for the whole world.”
While most congregations celebrate this unifying act of communion together on a regular basis, World Communion Sunday places a special emphasis on the universal nature of the church. World Communion Sunday is observed not only in The United Methodist Church, but also across several denominations, reminding us that Christ’s mission includes all who follow him.
On World Communion Sunday, we receive Christ’s blood and body as one body. We also celebrate one of our six Special Sundays as we corporately take up a special offering that goes toward World Communion Sunday Scholars, the Ethnic Scholarship Program and Ethnic In-Service Training Program.
The Ethnic In-Service Training Program recruits, prepares, nurtures and educates in order to support lay and clergy Christian leaders for the mission of Christ in the world. With our generous World Communion Sunday giving, we are able to continue the celebration of a unity and inclusiveness that spans across the globe and carries out the work of God among us and beyond us.
God of All, Unite us by the power of your Holy Spirit, remind us that we are called to embody Christ who calls us all together, and inspire us to be your church acting in ministry to all the world. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost / in Kingdomtide - Gracious God, we praise you! You have entrusted to us a priceless treasure, the good news of Christ who conquered death. In him, we have the promise of new and everlasting life. Empower us by your Spirit to spend our days working for your purposes. As our church shares the gospel with friends and neighbors, may we all draw closer to you. We dedicate our lives and these offerings in Jesus’ name. Amen. (2 Timothy 1:1-14)
On the first Sunday in October, we join with churches across denominations, across the country and across the globe to observe World Communion Sunday.
World Communion Sunday is a celebration of the gift of Christ’s blood and body, as well as a celebration of the body that is the universal church. On World Communion Sunday, we are reminded that the church is made up of all of those who follow Jesus — a church without borders.
The United Methodist Church also celebrates World Communion Sunday by taking up one of the six churchwide Special Sunday offerings. The gifts received on World Communion Sunday carry out the mission of the church by supporting and equipping lay and clergy leaders with training and education through the World Communion Scholars, Ethnic Scholarship Program and Ethnic In-Service Training Program.
As we celebrate World Communion Sunday together, may our prayer truly be that we are made by God’s Spirit to be “one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to the world.”
Moment for Mission
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. — Jeremiah 29:7
Children’s Sabbath is celebrated in a variety of ways in The United Methodist Church. It is an opportunity, alongside others from a range of faith backgrounds, to make a commitment to educate our congregations about the current state of children and families. It has been said that the welfare of the entire community, its growth and development depend on the health and well-being of the children.
Not only is it important for our nation to care about the welfare of children, but also to act on their behalf. Jesus welcomed the children at a time when children had little to no standing in society. While we live in a time when children have rights, there continues to be children who face hunger and other challenges that accompany poverty every day.
According to the Children’s Defense Fund, more than one in five children lives in poverty; one in 17 lacks health coverage; one in nine is at risk of hunger; two in five eighth grade public school children read below grade level; and nearly one in five children drops out of high school.
Children’s Sabbath is an opportunity for congregations to celebrate the gift of those children who worship alongside us, as well as those outside of our congregation who are more than statistics and need prayer as well as prayerful actions by the saints.
God, We give thanks for the children among us who bring us joy and remind us to wonder and to hope. For all those children who face hunger, struggle with education, and who are not safe at home, we pray. Inspire us to be people who act on their behalf. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost / in Kingdomtide - Merciful God, your steadfast love endures forever. We are grateful that when we are hungry in body or spirit, you give us food. Help our congregation to bring nourishment to those who are hungry for your good gifts. Strengthen and renew our ministries with children and those who are vulnerable. Use these tithes and offerings to reach people with your loving kindness. We pray through Jesus Christ, the bread of life. Amen. (Psalm 111)
The observance of Children’s Sabbath by The United Methodist Church is distinct from a typical Children’s Sunday in that it moves us beyond celebrating with our children and toward compassion for our neighborhoods, our communities and our nation. Children’s Sabbath offers the opportunity for our congregations, alongside those from many other denominations and faith backgrounds, to educate ourselves on the state of children and families today.
Children’s Defense Fund provides resources to help congregations take a look at what children in America are facing. They report one in five lives in poverty; one in 17 lacks health coverage; one in nine is at risk of hunger; two in five eighth grade public school children read below grade level; and one in five drops out of high school.
When we prayerfully consider the challenges that our children face, maybe we will be inspired to act as people of faith in ways that will remove obstacles and close opportunity gaps hindering children from realizing their promise.
Moment for Mission
“…so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” — 2 Timothy 3:17
Cultural anthropologist Margret Mead was credited with saying, “Never doubt the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.”
As we consider the efforts of our laity — as individuals, small groups, and even on large scales, as with United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men — in making disciples for the transformation of the world, we know this to be true.
On Laity Sunday, we celebrate the work of the laity and their call to accomplish God’s mission in the world. As United Methodists, we recognize that the work of ministry does not solely belong to the clergy. Laypeople work alongside clergy as lay servants, teachers and preachers, as well as in the administration of The United Methodist Church. Laity are involved with worship and discipleship leadership and planning. The laity of the church organize food pantries, clothing drives, local and international missions, afterschool ministries and feeding programs. Laity participate in pastoral care visits with hospitalized and homebound church members and serve communion.
We celebrate Laity Sunday because we know that all who belong to God, who follow Christ, are called to share in the work of God’s kingdom. When we are able to generously give to the World Service Fund through apportionments, we are able to support the continued work of the laity of our United Methodist Church.
Creator of All, We thank you for the gifts you have given each one. We thank you for the laity who serve among us, who allow their lives to worship you. Inspire us to continue supporting the work that is done for your kingdom in us and through us your church. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost / in Kingdomtide - Generous God, thank you for the gift of salvation through Christ your Son. You bring joy to our hearts! Help us to respond to your grace by sharing our faith, talents, and monetary blessings through the ministries of this church. May your loving Spirit shine through all that we say and do. Accept these gifts that we offer through Jesus, our risen Lord. Amen. (2 Timothy 3:14–4:5)
The United Methodist Church sets aside one Sunday each year to celebrate Laity Sunday. On this day, we celebrate the countless hours of preparation and service that laity put into the church, in worship and all other areas of the church. Worship is more than a service to attend, it is a way of life. Our laity are the evidence of that as they live out their call to serve God and others in the church and the world.
In The United Methodist Church, laity are able to participate using their gifts in a variety of ways and in different areas of the church alongside clergy. All laity are called to love God and neighbor, to seek justice, and to make disciples for the transformation of the world.
Through our generous giving toward our World Service Fund apportionments, we are able to continue to support the work of our laity in the world and in the church.
Moment for Mission
Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. — Joel 2:27
This past July, 15 new bishops were elected from the Northeastern, Southeastern, North Central, South Central and Western jurisdictions of The United Methodist Church.
The ministry of the bishops in each of the jurisdictions and in the annual conferences involves gifts of administration, oversight and casting a vision that will inspire their congregations to take seriously the call to make disciples for the transformation of the world. Bishops also are charged with shepherding the flocks and maintaining the unity of the church.
This summer, the Southeastern Jurisdiction elected its first African-American female bishop, the Rev. Sharma Lewis of the North Georgia Conference. Lewis was one of seven women elected as bishops in The United Methodist Church this summer. The work of Lewis and all the bishops will continue to be of vital importance as The United Methodist Church navigates how the church will meet the world in the midst of a complicated cultural climate, both inside and outside its walls.
Many of these bishops began their new appointments on Sept. 1, leaving churches they have served for years, sometimes changing locations altogether to serve congregations in another capacity. Our giving of our apportionments to the Episcopal Fund provide the support necessary to allow our bishops to do the important work of guiding the church in service and mission to the world.
God, we thank you for those who have heard your call to lead your people. We pray that they may have ears to hear your voice, eyes to see where you are moving, and wisdom as they shepherd their flocks. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost / in Kingdomtide - Holy God, we rejoice in your goodness. There is no one like you! You have restored us to right relationship with you. You send your Spirit and abundant blessings in our lives. It is an honor to contribute to the wonders you are doing through the mission of this church. In gratitude, we return a portion of your bounty to us. May you uplift people in our community and the world through the presence of Christ your Son. Amen. (Joel 2:23-32)
In July, The United Methodist Church elected 15 new bishops in elections held during jurisdictional conferences across the United States. Of those, seven were women, including the Rev. LaTrelle Miller Easterling, an elder from the Northeastern Jurisdiction. Bishop Easterling is passionate about working with those on the margins and is a champion for justice. Easterling and most of the new bishops began their appointments on Sept. 1.
The work of the bishops is an incredible undertaking as they shepherd a large flock and set the vision for their congregations of making disciples for the transformation of the world. They also are charged with preserving the unity of The United Methodist Church. These responsibilities are even more important in moments such as this, when the cultural climate, outside and sometimes inside our own churches, is complicated and politically charged. Our generous giving to our apportionments allows the Episcopal Fund to support our bishops and the work that they do.
Moment for Mission
“Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” — Isaiah 1:17
Annual conferences in The United Methodist Church set aside one Sunday each year to observe Golden Cross Sunday. On this Sunday, a special offering is collected that will be used for health and welfare ministries in the annual conference.
Those in need of receiving assistance from this fund could be victims of natural or man-made disasters, they could be experiencing health problems, facing harsh and impossible economic circumstances or experiencing any of the many challenges that come with aging.
We take up these Golden Cross offerings as The United Methodist Church because we believe where there are persons in need, we as the church have a responsibility to respond with actions in the spirit of doing good, seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, and pleading on behalf of those who have no voice.
While the ways that annual conferences use these funds may vary, the purpose is clear: Golden Cross Sunday is an opportunity for the church to take action and love our most vulnerable neighbors.
One in six people in the United States faces hunger and even more people face food insecurity that directly affects their health and well-being. Our generous gifts toward Golden Cross Sunday help people and families begin to address real problems like hunger or lack of medical care that lead to poor health and welfare.
Merciful God, We recognize that there are those who are suffering among your people, those whose hunger and thirst is tangible. Grant that we become a generous people, willing to give of ourselves and of our resources to bring inside those who have been on the outside. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost / in Kingdomtide - God, our Savior, you know each person by name. At times, we may stray from your way and not realize we are lost. Yet you kindly welcome us back, as you welcomed Zacchaeus. Help our church’s outreach ministries to reflect your grace. Give us courage by your Spirit to persevere in our faith commitments. Receive these offerings as a joyful outpouring of our thanks for your redeeming love through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Luke 19:1-10)
Hunger is a real issue in America, affecting our country’s most vulnerable. In 2014, 46.7 million people were living in poverty, including 15.5 million children under the age of 18 and 4.6 million seniors ages 65 and older. As these difficult conditions continue, poverty and hunger need our attention.
The United Methodist Church, which believes in making disciples for the transformation of the world, also has several ways to get involved in working toward disrupting the cycles of poverty in our communities.
One of those is through Golden Cross Sunday, which is observed one Sunday each year on a date determined by each annual conference. On Golden Cross Sunday, The United Methodist Church takes up an offering that goes toward health and welfare ministries of the annual conference.
While we are celebrating the Hispanic Heritage Month in mid-September, several Latin American nations are celebrating their independence days.
Today, our thoughts inevitably turn to the events of 15 years ago on Sept. 11. Our prayers are directed toward those most affected by the tragedies.
One Sunday each year the United Methodist Church observes Rural Life Sunday where the church celebrates its rural heritage.
If you have taken communion at a United Methodist Church, odds are you have spoken these words, “One with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.”
Only one in eight American men attend church on a weekly basis. Yet, those men who attend church experience a higher level of satisfaction in life.