A Communion Meditation: The Unity We Share at the Table – World Convention Sunday, August 3, 2008

<ed.note>My friend Clint Holloway, a church historian who specializes in the Stone-Campbell Family of Churches, wrote this meditation for the upcoming World Convention here in Nashville. I’ve added some information from the latest ChristiaNet to provide context.</ed.note>

At 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon August 3, 2008 those attending the 17th global gathering of the World Convention will come together for the closing worship service with President Dr C. Robert Wetzel bringing the message. This service has been seen as the culmination of convention and has traditionally included partaking of the Lord’s Supper as a witness to the unity we share at the table as the Stone-Campbell Movement and the body of Christ.

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Selections of John 17:20-23

Two hundred years ago, Thomas Campbell, a spiritual forefather of the Stone-Campbell Movement, looked around and saw the sin of division separating Christians one from another and destroying the fellowship God intended for his children. He wrote in the Declaration and Address:

(Prop.1) THAT the church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the scriptures…

(Prop.2) That although the church…must necessarily exist in particular and distinct…(congregations), locally separate one from another; yet there ought to be…no uncharitable divisions among them. They ought to receive each other as Christ hath also received them to the Glory of God…[1]

Two thousand years ago, Jesus looked around and saw the division of sin was separating God’s creation from Him and was destroying the fellowship God intended his children to have with the Father. Praying on the night before he was crucified, Jesus said,

I pray…for those who will believe in me…, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved me even as you have loved them.[2]

The mission of Christ was to bring us into that Father-Son oneness so we could enjoy the completeness of God’s love. Though we must worship in different congregations geographically separate from one another, there should be no unbiblical and uncharitable divisions between us. From Jesus’ prayer we learn there should be no sinful division to keep us from true fellowship with one another and with God. Our love and unity should witness to the world.

Nowhere is the unity between Christians and God more evident than at this table. At this table we lay aside our divisions and we repent of our sins. At this table we share with each other as Christians and we share with our Father. This is Communion.

Let us pray…make the unity we share at the table a reality in our times…

[1] Thomas Campbell, Declaration and Address, Brown and Sample, Washington , PA , 1809, 16 (Emphasis mine).

[2] Selections from John 17:20-23, NIV (Emphasis mine – Clinton Holloway).