World Communion Sunday in Congo
The Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo share in communion each first day of the week. For Congolese Disciples, the fellowship and breaking of bread has cultural and spiritual significance. It is foremost an expression of unity in the faith, recalling a shared experience of baptism. Communion also complements the cultural practice of sharing a meal in community, wherein each person is afforded a satisfactory portion.
In most parts of Equator Province, preparation for communion does not involve wine or grape juice because it’s not always available, and it is difficult to store given the climate. A widely available soft drink called Vitalo is commonly used as the emblem for Christ’s blood because of its red color. The emphasis is placed more on the red color resembling blood than a drink originating from grapes, or “the fruit of the vine”, which is not commonly cultivated in Equator Province. Vitalo is not always available in remote areas, so the local churches there must improvise. They sometime use crushed spinach seeds mixed into water to turn it red. A little sugar is then added to sweeten the taste. Bread is used as the emblem for Christ’s body, but also biscuits or sugar cookies are a substitute when bread is unavailable.
CDCC churches celebrate communion with solemn reverence. The church doors are closed and candles are lit. Instruments and drums are silent during communion. The only sounds are raised voices singing familiar communion hymns.
World Communion Sunday is an acknowledgement that the whole of Christianity practices communion in some form or fashion. While the emblems, look of the tables and certain customs may vary around the world, we all come to share in this meal as an important tenet of our faith. World Communion Sunday is an opportunity, and a reminder, to bring what we love about sharing the Lord’s meal to the world, that sense of unity, presence, peace and community. May we always seek to bring these elements to the world in remembrance of Jesus.