Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Reflections on World Communion Sunday in Nigeria.

On Oct. 4--World Communion Sunday--Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) celebrated communion. Communion followed a similar pattern to that of the Church of the Brethren in the US. The date and form of communion, or "love feast," was closely connected to our home congregation Chiques Church of the Brethren in Pennsylvania. As we participated in the service, we thought of our friends and family gathering around the tables commemorating the life and sacrifice of Jesus.

At Chiques, we gather around tables on Saturday evening for the common meal, unleavened bread, wine (which is grape juice), footwashing, and a cappella singing. On Sunday after the morning service, we gather again for an informal fellowship meal.

In Kwarhi--at the Kulp Bible College chapel--the scene was dramatically different but strangely familiar. Rather than Saturday evening we gathered on Sunday morning. After the regular service, we began the communion and love feast portion which also was held in the pews of the church sanctuary.

We began with the footwashing. To do this we filed out of the church in groups of about 20 people, men out one door and women out another. We then broke up into pairs and washed each other’s feet. After this was completed we shared a fellowship meal. The meal took place in the pews. People passed what they brought and moved about the room tasting the various dishes. At the conclusion of the meal, which lasted only a short time, everyone returned to their seats for the remainder of the service. The bread was small cubes of white bread and the wine was, because of the absence of grapes in Nigeria, a strawberry juice blend.

This was a dramatically different but strangely familiar experience. As we participated in the celebration, we were drawn to think of the truly international nature of the Church. While we knew what was happening at one congregation in Pennsylvania, we could only imagine what was taking place on this World Communion Sunday in many other parts of the world.

Jesus said to "do this in remembrance of me." We can now not only do this in remembrance of him, but we can remember our brothers and sisters around the world who also gather to celebrate the feast.

-- Nathan and Jennifer Hosler are Church of the Brethren mission staff in Nigeria.

Source: 11/4/2009 Newsline

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