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Dislocated People - Celebrating World Communion Sunday - Ephesians 1

A service plan and resource suggestions for World Communion Sunday. Although the unity of the church needs constant attention, days like this give us opportunity to recommit ourselves to the life of unity to which Christ calls us.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

The first Sunday of October is customarily referred to as World Communion Sunday. On this day the worldwide church gathers at the table of the Lord to eat and drink in expression of their oneness in Christ. Although the unity of the church needs constant attention, days like this give us opportunity to recommit ourselves to the life of unity to which Christ calls us. Careful efforts must be made to increase our awareness that we are worshiping with brothers and sisters of many places and cultures.

Given the focus on our unity, this service should reflect parts of the Christian church that are different than our own local traditions.

  • You will find a variety of resources and ideas for this service in The Worship Sourcebook, section S, the Unity of the Church.
  • Reformed Worship, issue 76, also includes a very helpful and informative article, "The Communion of Saints: Resources from the Worldwide Church" by Anne E. Zaki. (Notice especially the prayer calendar on page 36.)
  • The website of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship regularly posts Vital Worship Feature Storiesthat provide excellent insights for World Communion Sunday. These are a few possibilities.

"Praying for Christians in Egypt (and elsewhere)"
"Love Globally, Worship Locally: How to do church as members of one body"
"Korean-American Churches: From generation to generation"
"Getting to Know Each Other: Pastors from two denominations share stories"
"Reformed Churches Worldwide: A common heritage"
"Evangelical Christians in Mexico: Believing in Christ alone"
"Bayanihan: Filipino sense of community"
"New Ethnic Churches: Visit one soon"
"African-American Church Music: Beyond the myths"
"Unwrapping the Gift of Music from Other Cultures"

We encourage you to use as much variety of leadership as possible in this service. Try to involve those who may represent a culture other than the dominant one of your community. You might also consider having them speak, pray or read in languages other than yours.


Prelude: "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship
Let us acknowledge the company in which we meet:
the church on earth and in heaven;
the faithful who worshipped here before us;
the hundreds of thousands
of every place and language
who, on the Lord's day, seek to set their lives
within the atmosphere of renewing grace.
As we think of them,
let us take deliberate encouragement
from our unity with them all. (The Worship Sourcebook, S.1.2.3)

Opening Hymn: "Holy, Holy, Holy ! Lord God Almighty" PH138, PsH249, RL611, RN204, TH100, TWC2, UMH64 [see music notes]

Our Opening Prayer:
O God of all creation,
you alone are God.
And you alone can satisfy our longing
for a support that earth cannot give
and that heaven will not take away.
Help us, in recognition of our common dependence on you,
to acknowledge our need of one another.
Let the oneness of our worship
make us one in love and service. Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook, S.1.4.2)

*Song: "God, You Call Us to This Place" SNC 14

*God's Greeting:
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*The Worshipers Greet Each Other

*Song of Response: "Somos uno en Cristo / We Are One in Christ Jesus" SNC 179


Time of Confession:
Across the barriers that divide race from race:
reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide rich from poor:
reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide people of different cultures:
reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide Christians:
reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide men and women, young and old:
reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Confront us, O Christ, with the hidden prejudices and fears
that deny and betray our prayers.
Enable us to see the causes of strife,
remove from us all senses of superiority.
Teach us to grow in unity with all God's children. Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook, S.2.2.2)

The Assurance of God's Pardon: Ephesians 2:11-18

*Song of Response: "Lift High the Cross" PH 371, PsH 373, RL 415, RN 297, SFL 171, TH 263, TWC 229, UMH 159
or: "In Christ There Is No East or West" PH 440, PsH 540, RL 410, TWC 695, UMH 548 [see music notes]


The Offering of Music: "Lift High the Cross" or "In Christ There Is No East or West" [see music notes]
We offer our gifts for.


The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Ephesians 1:1-10
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Dislocated People
Text: Ephesians 1:1, 2

The Prayers of the People [see liturgy notes]


Anthem: "Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ," Lovelace (Jamaica) [see music notes]

The Invitation to the Table

*Our Corporate Profession of Faith: The Apostles' Creed

*Song: "Somos pueblo que camina / We Are People on a Journey" SNC 260: Nicaragua

Our Participation in the Bread
"I Will Sing unto the Lord" PsH 152, RN 120, SFL 105: Israeli Folk Song
"Come and See" SFL 176: African American Spiritual
"Santo" SNC 19: Argentina

Our Participation in the Cup
"Father in Heaven" SFL 55: Philippines or PsH 252: North American Appalachian Folk
"Cantad al Señor / O Sing to the Lord" PH 472, RN 74, SNC 224, WOV 795: Brazil
"Haleluya ! Pela tsa rona / Hallelujah, We Sing Your Praises" WOV 722, RN 239, SNC 261: South Africa
"Santo" SNC 19: Argentina

The Prayer of Thanksgiving


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Canto de esperanza / Song of Hope" PH 432, SNC 282: Argentina

Postlude: "Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ," Behnke [see music notes]

* - You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes

The first two verses of Ephesians 1 are not merely routine verses to open a letter. These words set the stage for Paul's intended purpose of encouraging them to become "deep disciples" of Christ. In quick fashion he identifies himself, states his calling "by the will of God," calls them "saints" and "faithful," and greets them with God's grace and peace. These are loaded words that should be read with much more care than opening sentences usually receive!

Paul is a "deep disciple," and this lays the foundation for his instruction. In addition, he is in prison for preaching the gospel (this is a "prison epistle"). Ephesus is a strategic city of commercial and religious significance, infested with idolatrous paganism ("great is Artemis/Diana," see Acts 19:23ff.). Consequently, this church is located very strategically but has no easy task.

It is important to understand that Paul is writing these words as one dislocated person to other dislocated people. To be dislocated means that something/someone seems to be in the wrong place. Paul obviously feels dislocated because he is in prison instead of on his missionary journeys. The saints in Ephesus are dislocated because they belong to Christ but reside in a pagan and idolatrous city which worships Artemis. This is frequently the case; think of the Israelites in Egypt, Jewish captives in Babylon, and Daniel and his friends in a strange land, for instance. Peter addresses his readers as ".God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered." (1 Peter 1:1). Heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 are described as "aliens and strangers on earth" (Hebrews 11:13). This is true of all of God's children in every age. Whatever land and culture we live in is not our true home. Our calling is to receive our true identity through Jesus Christ, accept his calling to live where we are, and aim to be deep disciples in this location.

Paul points to several truths that will help us live as deep disciples even when dislocated.

  • We must know we are "saints" (Ephesians 1:1). This is Paul's favorite word to describe the sacred identity of those redeemed in Christ. We come to the Lord's Table today to see our identity as redeemed people.
  • We are called to be "faithful" (Ephesians 1:1). Being saints and being found faithful should always go together.
  • Dislocated people live on a diet of grace and peace from God (Ephesians 1:2). Paul offers it to them in the name of God, and they must accept it and appropriate it. Today God is dispensing this grace and peace to his saints around the world as they come to his table.

This is a precious picture: God's children from around the world journeying through life, coming to his Table and waiting on God for his grace and peace to continue their journey!

Music Notes
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Suggestions for prelude and alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in the following resources:

NICAEA ["Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty"]

Callahan, Charles. Partita on Nicaea. Morningstar MSM-10-709 [1996] (E-M)
Farlee, Robert Buckley. (1995) Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000]
Honoré, Jeffrey. Classic Embellishments. Augsburg 11-11005 [1999] (E-M; could include a
solo instrument)
Leavitt, John. With High Delight. Concordia 97-6845 [2000]
Lutkin, Peter. Christian Hymn Tune Transcriptions. H. W. Grey. [1908] (E-M)
Post, Piet. Fantasie over het lied "Heilig, Heilig, Heilig". Ars Nova nr 493 [1961] (E-M)

David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (M)
Innes, John. Majesty. Hope 269 [1985] (E-M)

Wagner, Douglas. E. Festival Piece on "Nicaea". Jenson 466-06019 [1983] (3 octaves, E-M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 5. Ludwig O-14 [1992]
Wood, Dale. New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9292 [1968]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Organ, Anne Krentz & Helgen, John. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Resources for the song following the Assurance of Pardon and suggestions for offertory music based on that hymn can be found in:

CRUCIFER ["Lift High the Cross"]

Alternative Harmonizations for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Cherwien, David & Wasson, Laura E. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-534 [1999]
Busarow, Donald. Processional on "Lift High the Cross". Concordia 97-5442 (M)
Callahan, Charles. Partita on Crucifier. Concordia 97-6456 [1994] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M)

Carter, John. The Wondrous Cross. Hope 1747 [1994] (E-M)

McChesney, Kevin. Lift High The Cross. Lorenz HB 230 [1988] (3-4 octaves, M)
Moklebust, Cathy and David. Lift High the Cross. Choristers Guild CGB 193 [1997] (3-5
octaves/organ, E-M)

MCKEE ["In Christ There Is No East or West"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH 97-6851 [2000]

Stearns, Peter Pindar. Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use. Flammer HF-5145 [1987] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Wood Works, bk. 2. SMP KK400 [1989] (E-M)

The anthem "Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ," arranged by Austin C. Lovelace for two-part mixed voices with piano and optional guitar and bongos is published by Choristers Guild CGA619 [1993] (E). If a choir is available for participation in this service, use them throughout the service in leading and assisting the congregation in song. If a choir or worship team is not available, this Jamaican song can be sung congregationally. It can be found in SNC 258.

The organ postlude suggestion based on the communion anthem "Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ" by John A. Behnke can be found in "Three Global Songs", published by Hope 8057 [1999] (E-M). The text, as sung earlier in the service includes references to both the Table and Christ's sending us to service.

Liturgy Notes

1. We have suggested several resources from The Worship Sourcebook for the early moments of this service. Each of these will highlight the theme of the unity of the church for the worshipers. You will find additional resources in The Worship Sourcebook, section S, "The Unity of the Church."

2. Notice how all the music of this service is representative of Christians throughout the world. An appropriate comment, perhaps in the bulletin, will increase this awareness for all and help worshipers realize the unity of the church.

3. Many suggestions for very appropriate "Prayers of the People" in this service will be found in The Worship Sourcebook, section S.4.4. These resources will increase our awareness of other persons and other needs in our world that we must lift up to God in prayer. Other suggestions can be found in Anne Zaki's article in RW 76, p. 36.

4. Gestures of unity, such as greeting each other and corporately professing our faith with the ecumenical and historic Apostles' Creed, will add much meaning to this worship service.

5. Likely your own customs will shape how you structure the service at the Table of the Lord. Notice that we have planned it here with the assumption that the communicants will sing, either while the elements are being distributed or while communicants come forward. These songs reflect the cultures of our brothers and sisters around the world.


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