I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -John 13:34-35
The lilac and hawthorn scents permeate the grey dampness of this Australian spring morning. A couple of cockatoos squawk loudly as we drive past on our way to preach at the Springvale Church of Christ. We arrive early, and people introduce themselves as they enter. Here is Fred from Germany. Frank comes from Portugal. Daisy's home is Kenya. Andrew and Nisha hail from Sudan. Son and his parents emigrated from Vietnam. Only forty people are gathered for worship, but we might be standing in the foyer of the United Nations rather than in the narthex of a suburban Melbourne, Australia, church. We ask how many different countries are represented in the Springvale congregation. An elder replies, "More than twenty countries are represented when we gather for worship each week!"
Son, a young adult, leaves his parents in the pew and slips out as we start the sermon. His parents put on headphones. The sermon is amplified into the narthex where Son sits and translates it into Vietnamese. His parents hear the "word" in their native tongue!
As communion is served we are reminded that the church is not confined by boundaries or national loyalties. Indeed, we have a higher allegiance to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The unity that we feel at the table Jesus has set for us is a unity that calls us all to work for justice and peace. At this communion table in Springvale, we are reminded that we are sisters and brothers with all God's people, inside the church and out, in Australia and abroad.
God, on this World Communion Sunday, bless your church around the world. May the churches in Australia, the U.S. and Canada sense this global unity as they gather around Christ's table. May they respond to your love by sharing their great wealth and resources with their neighbours in need. God, creator of us all, may we all celebrate being part of one race, the human race, and one family, Your family. Amen.
Ana and Tod Gobledale
Chaplains, Churches of Christ Theological College
The Gobledales serve the Common Global Ministries Board at Churches of Christ Theological College (Seminary) in Australia. They are accompanied by their 16-year old son, Mandla, who attends Rowville Secondary College, the local high school. Their 19-year old daughter, Thandiwe, continues her university studies at Pomona College, in Claremont, California