That I May Gain Christ

Pressing On

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

This is World Communion Sunday, a service that could certainly stand on its own. It carries enough weight and meaning to not need the support of a larger theme. Many worshiping communities have traditions and practices that accompany World Communion Sunday, and those should remain in place. Let this service be significant in the minds and hearts of the congregation.

World Communion Sunday can stand on its own thematically. It is also possible, however, to fold the meaning of the day into the theme of the series, as we remind ourselves that while we celebrate the world community of which we are a part, we are also pressing on toward a prize that is the kin-dom of God, fully realized and accessible to all people. That we are not yet there is painfully obvious. Whether we are talking about far off corners of the world or our own backyard, we confess that there is much for which we must repent, even as there is evidence of the presence of God in the least likely of places.

ResourceUMC has provided a variety of resources for World Communion Sunday, both for the special offering designated for the day, and worship and sermon notes in general.

An older liturgy for the Great Thanksgiving for World Communion Sunday is available from

Call to Worship

Gather us in,
the lost and the lonely,
the broken and breaking,
the tired and the aching
who long for nourishment
found at your feast

The done and the doubting,
the wishing and wondering,
the puzzled and pondering
who long for the company
found at your feast.

the proud and pretentious,
the sure and superior,
the never inferior
who long for the leveling
found at your feast

the bright and the bustling,
the stirrers, the shakers,
the kind laughter makers
who long for the deeper joys
found at your feast.

from corner or limelight,
from mansion or campsite,
from fears and obsession,
from tears and depression,
from untold excesses,
from treasured successes,
to meet, to eat,
to be given a seat,
be joined to the vine,
be offered new wine,
become like the least,
be found at the feast.


Wild Goose Worship Group, A Wee Worship Book, GIA Publications, Inc., pp.80-81


As we gather at your table from all over the world, O God, we pray that all those who come to you in the name of Christ might be one in Spirit. Knead us together in one loaf. Free us from jealousy and selfish ambition; unite us in mission and service to those in need everywhere. May we sow righteousness and harvest peace, through the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ruth Duck, Flames of the Spirit, Pilgrim Press, p.53.


Brothers and Sisters, Christ has prepared the feast. At this table we join with people from around the world including Darfur, Port-au-Prince, D.C., Harlem, and Rio. Christ invites to his table everyone who loves him, those who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.

Call to Confession

Saints, it is time to ‘fess up. As good as we have tried to be, all of us have messed up this week and need God’s forgiveness once again. Commandments have been broken right and left. We’ve lied. We’ve allowed jobs, money and people to exist as gods in place of God. The list could go on. Together, let us confess our sins before our loving God.

Prayer of Corporate Confession (unison)

God, we confess that although we knew better, we have sinned. We have not loved you or our neighbors the way we should. We have not always honored you with our time. We’ve coveted other people’s stuff. And sometimes we have called you out of your name. Lord, forgive us. We apologize for the pain we’ve caused you. Forgive us of our sins and help us to live in ways that give you joy – in Jesus’ name, amen.

Words of Assurance

Brothers and sisters, there is good news today! God is faithful and just and has forgiven each of us for all of our mess. The things you were embarrassed about – God has forgiven you. The thing no one else knows about – God has forgiven it! You have been given the graceful gift of another chance. Hallelujah! In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Thank you God!

People: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!

All: Glory to God! Thank you Jesus! Amen.

Lillian C. Smith, The Africana Worship Book, Year A, World Communion Sunday, p. 237

Festival preface

Celebrant: Since you have called us,
since you have kept a place for us,
since your face lights up when we sit at your table,
gracious God,


Celebrant: When deep down . . . despite the contradictions,
we know,
we sense,
we believe that life is good;
when one of your words
rings truer than ever before,
when in one unexpected moment
we are given a glimpse of your kingdom,
gracious God,


Celebrant: In this place
where prayer has been made for many years,
in this place
where so many different people have found
their common bond in your call and purpose,
in this place
where the walls are waiting
to echo your praise,
gracious God,


Celebrant: Therefore, with the Church throughout the world,
with the Church on the other side of time,
with those who once praised you here
and have now joined the closer harmony of heaven,
we sing the song of your everlasting praise:

ALL: (The SANCTUS is sung)

Wild Goose Worship Group, A Wee Worship Book, GIA Publications, Inc., pp.90-91

Prayer of Thanksgiving (after Communion)

God of new life, with joy we have received this sacrament of bread and cup, giving you thanks for Jesus Christ, our peace and our hope. Unite your church throughout the world in continuing Christ’s ministry of love and servanthood, that your name might be praised in all the earth. Amen.

Ruth Duck, Bread for the Journey, Pilgrim Press, p.14.

In This Series...

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Reformation Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes