Every year on the first Sunday of October we mark two significant moments in our life as Presbyterians.
First we celebrate World Communion Sunday – a day when we celebrate and pray for the global church. In the invitation to the sacrament we often hear these words as we envision a worldwide celebration of God’s people:
This is the joyful feast of the people of God. They shall come from east and west and north and south and sit at table together in God’s Kingdom.
Communion is a remembrance – a memorial meal – when we re-enact what Jesus did with his disciples in an upper room before his arrest to remember his sacrifice and love for our sake.
But Communion is also a rehearsal. It is a vision of the global banquet that we will celebrate together with the communion of saints in Christ’s presence. When we give thanks as a community over the bread and the cup, we also often hear these words:
May Christ’s coming in glory find us ever watchful in prayer, strong in truth and love, and faithful in the breaking of the bread. Then at last all people’s will be free, all division healed, and with your whole creation we will sing your praise.
Communion compels us to envision God’s kingdom here on earth. We are reminded that as God’s children we are chosen not just for salvation but for service as well, and that we might work in the world for “peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment.” (Book of Order G-1.0304)
So on the day that we practice for the global kingdom feast for which we are preparing, we also have a tradition of collecting one of our four special offerings in partnership with the Presbyterian Church (USA): The Peace and Global Witness Offering (formerly – Peacemaking Offering)
Established in 1980, The Peace and Global Witness Offering is used to maintain Presbyterians’ longstanding commitment of working toward peacemaking and reconciliation, especially in cultures of violence. Congregations and presbyteries keep 25 percent of receipts for peace and witness ministries of their choice and send 50 percent to the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Here at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, the 25 percent of funds collected is used to support the work of our own Peacemaking committee which
seeks to engage us as a congregation in local peacemaking issues. This includes the reduction of gun violence in our communities through organizations like Heeding God’s Call, and violence intervention work with youth through organizations like Mother’s In Charge, and advocacy work related to poverty and income inequality, which will be highlighted in a panel discussion the Peacemaking Committee will sponsor this October 25th. Click here for more information on what is sure to be a helpful time of conversation for our congregation.
The remaining 75% of funds given to the Peace and Global Witness offering go towards work that the Presbyterian Church (USA) is doing both nationally and globally. This includes work that the PC(USA) is engaged in currently with the Synod of Lebanon to help support Syrian refugees. Here is how they describe this work and how the offering is working to impact the lives of refugees in the face of one of the most serious refugee crisis the world has ever known:
“Gifts to the Offering will support Syrian refugees who still hope for an end to violence and a peaceful future for their children. Because of the work of our church partners in Lebanon, the children of Syrians displaced by war and sheltering in refugee camps will be able to resume their education. They will receive schools supplies, a place to learn, and teachers, paving the way to a brighter future in a desperate situation. Your gift makes it possible for children to learn and teachers to teach: these are tools of hope for people struggling to make a life in camps and nourish hope for a return to their homes. A violent and broken world calls all of us to offer our gifts and play our part.”
We will collect the Peace and Global Witness Offering this Sunday, October 4th and October 11th. May our gifts represent both our hope in Christ’s vision for a world at peace AND our commitment as members of this community to be Christ’s agents for peace around the world. Please plan to give in the special envelopes placed in the pews during our time of worship together, or give through BPMC at our online giving page.