Yesterday my singing group took part in a wonderful International Carol Service – a multilingual celebration of the birth of Jesus. Around 120 people from the Birmingham area joined in carols in English, Yoruba, Shona, German, Irish Gaelic, French, Spanish, Visayan and Tigrinya and listened to readings in French, Cantonese, Swahili and Farsi. Many more nationalities were represented in the hall and despite the weather, my singing group included people from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Georgia and the UK. We taught the Yoruba song Keresimesi to the whole congregation and they all joined in brilliantly. There’s something prophetic about nations coming together to praise God and I think gives a glimpse of what heaven will be like. It was good to promote our group to some new potential members as well.
This morning I led a reflection around the sharing of communion at church, and felt led to focus on how we are all united as one body of Christ. This was one of the things which struck me most during our series of prayer meetings this week – how powerful it is when we stand together and pray in unity. I shared the verse from 1 Corinthians which is used in the Anglican Communion service, that says how though we are many, we are one body because we all share in one bread.
I talked about how we are called to be Christ’s body in the world, and how we can be his hands, his feet, his arms and his voice. I said how if I need a hug from God, the way it usually happens is through one of his people reaching out to embrace me, whether it’s my sister, my neighbour or my friend. Likewise I think the way God makes people cups of tea, or finds them a chair, or pats them on the back or holds us up is usually through other Christians being part of his body.
The other main point I wanted to share was how we are one body, and I used the verse a bit later to underline how when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer, but that if a part is honoured, we all rejoice. While we do not directly feel or fully understand the pain that others go through, if we are united with them we are affected by it. I encouraged people to come and receive bread and wine and to share it with others and pray for whatever needs people are experiencing. I stressed how the prayers did not have to be complicated – simply thanking God that he knew the situation and asking for his strength or peace for the person was enough.
I was pleased to have some positive comments from people after the service, and after the carol service yesterday as well. People encouraged me in response to my efforts to encourage and unite others and I hope the body was strengthened for whatever is coming next. Praise and communion are two of the things that unite the church around the world and through the ages and both can give us insight into our larger global body and family. As I write, others across the world are praising God and sharing the same simple meal, and I am part of them too. Hallelujah.