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Mika Laufili, minister for the Vaimoso Church of Christ, treats Erik Tryggestad to a traditional Samoan lunch in his home in Apia, Samoa.
Inside Story
Photo by Rosa Laufili

For 50 hours each Sunday, we remember

A few years ago, I was visiting the islands of Samoa as I reported on Churches of Christ in the South Pacific.

I preached for our brothers and sisters of the Vaimoso Church of Christ in Apia, Samoa, on a Sunday (and of course there was a potluck afterward). Then I went to a little airport and boarded a plane for the short flight to American Samoa, which is a U.S. territory.

In between the islands of Samoa and American Samoa is the International Date Line, so my flight took off at 3 p.m. Sunday and landed at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the previous day. So I stayed at the preacher’s house and told everyone “I’m gonna go ahead and turn in because I’ve been up since 6 a.m. … tomorrow.”

Vaimoso, Apia, Samoa

Think about it.

When I woke up it was Sunday again, so I went to church again and preached … again. 

This is confusing, I know, but Sunday actually lasts quite a long time, if I’m doing the math right. I believe that it’s Sunday somewhere on the planet for 49 or 50 consecutive hours. 

It seems like it should be a number that corresponds to the length of a day — maybe 48 hours — but the Republic of Kiribati has stretched the International Date Line pretty far east. It juts out and makes a border that kind of looks the profile of a goat. I think they wanted all of their islands on the same time. But that means they’re a day ahead of locales to their immediate north and south. 

Those “locales” are mostly water, though. I doubt the fish care.

So, when Sunday begins on Christmas Island in eastern Kiribati, it’s only 5 a.m. Saturday here in Oklahoma. 

Related: How to travel backward through time

(I tried to explain this to my daughters, ages 11 and 5, and they didn’t make it past “Christmas Island.” No, girls, that is not what you think it is. If we go there you’ll be in for a huge disappointment.)

Anyway, when Sunday ends in American Samoa, it’s 6 a.m. Monday in Oklahoma.  

Regardless of where we are — or when we are — we gather around the table as a global family to remember the life, death and resurrection of our Savior.

I took pictures with my phone during worship services in Samoa and American Samoa. This thoroughly confused the time-stamping mechanism. As I looked back through the images, I noticed that they “jumped” from island to island. They were shot 24 hours apart, but on the same day. 

The No. 1 thing people have asked me about this experience is, “Did you take the Lord’s Supper again?” 

Yes, I did.

The preacher in American Samoa, David Willis, talked about this, and he mentioned that in those hours between when Samoa and American Samoa take communion, Christians in all the rest of the world do the same. 

Some of them do this in secret in places like China. Some are refugees from the Middle East who share communion with their new church families in Vienna and other parts of Europe.

Regardless of where we are — or when we are — we gather around the table as a global family to remember the life, death and resurrection of our Savior.

Father, we thank you for these emblems, once used to celebrate the Passover, that your son asked us to take as representations of his body and blood. 

We pray that we will never forget the sacrifice that tore the veil separating us from your glory and brought us into your family.

We eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus’ great sacrifice and in awareness that we’re part of a global family of believers. 

We do this in your son’s name.

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Filed under: American Samoa Christians Inside Story Opinion Top Stories

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