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Communion: The day the wine ran out


Erv and Marian Wiens returned to Canada this past summer from their three-year Mennonite Church Canada Witness assignment in Chun Chon Korea. Erv is now the pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary.

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October 4, 2005
-by Erv Wiens

Chun Chon, South Korea — Jesus Village Church celebrates communion on the third Sunday of each month.

On these Sundays, seats are arranged in a large circle, focusing on a centre where a low table holds the symbols of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.

On a recent Sunday, the theme of the sermon preceding communion was reconciliation. In preparation for receiving the communion emblems, members of the congregation were encouraged to reflect on broken relationships in their lives as well as on relationships which have brought blessing and joy to their lives. Following the prayer of thanksgiving for the bread and wine, members were invited to come to the communion table bringing with them those whom they wished to be reconciled as well as those who have been a blessing in their lives.

For the next twenty minutes, people took turns kneeling around the communion table. Resentful husbands and wives experienced reconciliation in offering each other the broken bread and the cup of the new covenant. Other couples came to express gratitude for God's love in their lives. Parents brought teen-age children to commune together. Married and singles shared together. Those who held hurts toward each other now ate and drank together. A woman from the local shelter, whose marriage was in ruins, was lovingly embraced and brought to the table as tears of sorrow and love streamed down her face.

When the last adult, who had been caring for the children upstairs was relieved and allowed to come to the table, there were only crumbs left to dip into the now empty bowl of wine. Even though the bread and wine were consumed, reconciled hearts were filled with love and praise.

Opportunity was then given for personal sharing. One sister took the theme of reconciliation to its limit. She reminded us that the Islam practice of Ramadan had begun. During Ramadan, the world's 1.2 billion Muslims fast and pray from sunrise to sun set. In the current world situation where there is so much hatred and strife between Muslims, Christians and Jews, she called us to be reconciled to the world of Islam. And not only to innocent Muslims. She courageously called us to be reconciled with those practicing Jihad. And so, after experiencing reconciliation in the body of Christ, members of Jesus Village Church held up the current hatred between the world's hostile religious groups, begging God to reconcile all people to God's self and to each other.

The bread and wine may have ran out at the Jesus Village Church communion service that Sunday morning, but everyone there believed that the body and blood of Christ are sufficient to cover a world broken by hatred and violence.

"So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." II Corinthians 5: 20.

Ramadan for the years 2005 to 2007

First Day 2005 : 10/04/2005 Last Day 2005: 11/02/2005
First Day 2006 : 09/23/2006 Last Day 2006: 10/22/2006
First Day 2007: 09/12/2007 Last Day 2007: 10/11/2007