World Communion

Saturday night was Goshen College’s homecoming musical gala in Sauder Hall.  “Joy” and I had seats in row five from the front.  This is of special interest because “Joy’s” nephew is one of the principal conductors.  The total event is beyond my words to describe it.

This past Sunday was the conclusion of Goshen College’s homecoming weekend and the  celebration of world communion.  President James Brenneman preached  the sermon.  Pastor Phil Waite introduced him to us as “Jim.”   I remembered him as the boy I helped baptize at the Ybor City Mennonite Church in Tampa, Florida.

Baptism at Ybor City Mennonite Church on August 14, 1966, Jim Brenneman, front row, second from left

Jim’s sermon was titled “Turning the Tables” and was from a parable by Jesus recorded in Luke 14: 15-24 about a banquet to which many guests had been invited.  When the banquet was prepared banquet master sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all began to make excuses and declined the invitation..

So the banquet master told his servants to go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’   Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

 Then the master told his servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”

Jim concluded his sermon by saying that on world communion Sunday everyone should be at the Lord’s table.  Then he was moved as he mused about the table in his parent’s home on 22nd. St. in Tampa. He recalled that his family never knew who and how many would come home with his father in the evening to join them at their table.

I told Jim that he had preached my sermon, only better.  I concluded many communion sermons by inviting unbelievers to believe and to demonstrate a seeking faith by participating in the communion service.

Yesterday afternoon the Sauder Concert Hall filled for an introduction to former Goshen College President, Shirley Showalter, and her book, Blush. “Joy” and I were there and we enjoyed President Showalter’s description of her early life and the way it led to her future as a college president..



About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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3 Responses to World Communion

  1. Grace Miller says:

    Thank you for sharing these 2 beautiful events! I especially love the report about Jim leading the Communion Service. Communion is not only something I enjoy with brothers & sisters at church, but a worship I treasure almost every day. It has become the MOST favorite part of my day when together, my Lord & I, share the small cup and cracker, and remember the covenant HE cut with his blood & body for me…for mankind. Then I ask him who HE wants me to intercede for, and I take communion for that person or persons. If I’m in bed & remember that I did not have communion, I get up & tell the Lord that I’ll be right there for our “fellowship meal”. It is so much a part of me that even when I eat a cracker with soup, I silently thank him for his body that was broken for me. It has become a “first nature impulse” to treasure the moment. The bread & wine or juice have become more than simple elements to me. It is a time of sharing covenant responses with each other, my precious Lord & I. Communion is a powerful & sacred part of covenant lifestyle. It is my opinion that the “religious habit” of sharing communion once or twice a year has removed it from the purpose our Lord intended it to have and has robbed the church. I wish everyone would experience the gift Jesus gave us when, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 1Cor 11:23-26 (NIV)
    Welcome back Brother Martin! So good to have you back at your post. (another one of the kids you baptized in Tampa, but at Ida Street)

  2. Dear Grace,
    It is a wonderful blessing to hear from another of the Brenneman’s and to receive your testimony. The Lancaster Bishop Board one time asked me to do some research on the meaning of communion and report to them. One of the things I learned is that there are some scholars who believe that Jesus did not mean to establish a special meal as churches practice it. Instead he meant that every time we eat bread or drink wine we should remember him as you do. Perhaps writers of the Gospels could have done a better job reporting it. I noticed that you use a cracker or wafer. Is the wafer you use unleavened? It is my understanding that Jesus used unleavened bread from the Passover table. Rhoda sometimes made unleavened bread for a communion service. The dough must be pierced! – Martin

  3. Marilyn Slabach says:

    Communion is a part of every worship service at Cornerstone UMC in Naples since the church began in 1996. That has added much to my spiritual growth and worship experience. Thank you for sharing your experiences, wisdom and knowledge. Enhances my life! You are fortunate to live near the college. It does offer much to people in the community.

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