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‘We who are many are one body’

A trip around the world provides a reminder of the global nature of communion.

PORT VILA, VanuatuI forgot what day it was.

I was tired — exhausted, actually — when I landed thousands of miles from home after roughly 30 hours of travel.

I had ventured around the globe to report on a mission effort, yet I had somehow failed to acknowledge the Lord’s Day.

I had ventured around the globe to report on a mission effort, yet I had somehow failed to acknowledge the Lord’s Day.

Here’s what happened: On a recent Friday night, I boarded the longest flight of my life. The plane left Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport at 9:15 p.m.

After 17 hours in the air, I landed in Sydney, Australia, roughly 8,500 miles away. Sydney is, coincidentally, 17 hours ahead of Texas time, so I arrived in the land down under — my first time in the Outback, not counting steakhouses — at 7:15 a.m. Sunday.

And I still had several hours to wait before my afternoon connecting flight to this South Pacific island nation. That wait became longer when my scheduled flight was delayed for a few hours. And then delayed again.

At one point, the big board at the Sydney airport characterized my flight’s status as, “Relax.” I don’t know if that’s an Aussie thing, and I was unsure whether to laugh, cry or scream. But I eventually settled on quietly stewing.

When whatever problem had grounded my flight was settled, we finally took off around dinnertime. Three hours and 1,500 miles later, my host, Mike Shepherd, and my Christian Chronicle colleague/photographer extraordinaire Audrey Jackson greeted me at the Port Vila airport.

It was about 8 p.m. Sunday. But the day of the week had, by that point, escaped me.

Mike Shepherd, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen, discusses Redlands College's international mission campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Mike Shepherd, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen, discusses Redlands College’s international mission campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Redlands is a K-12 school in Wellington Point, Australia, that is associated with Churches of Christ.

Shepherd drove us to the rural mission site where we’d spend the next few days. I unloaded my bags and found my bunk in a steamy dormitory with no air-conditioning. Remember, it’s summer in that part of the world.

About 9 p.m., I was just about to brush my teeth and collapse in bed when I heard a knock at my door.

Shepherd greeted me with a smile and handed me a portable communion packet.

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“I thought you might like this,” he said.

“Thank you,” I replied, suddenly aware of the day of the week.

I found myself thinking about all the Christians around the globe who had partaken of the Lord’s Supper that day or would do so in the hours ahead.

The Christian Chronicle's Bobby Ross Jr., right, visits with Alsen Rabnaveth and Steven Komra, members of Churches of Christ in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The Christian Chronicle’s Bobby Ross Jr., right, visits with Alsen Rabnaveth and Steven Komra, members of Churches of Christ in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

I did the quick math in my head and realized it was 4 a.m. back home in Oklahoma. Brothers and sisters from my home congregation were sleeping now, but they’d gather later that morning.

On the way into worship, they’d pick up the same portable communion packet I held in my hand, and they’d reflect — as they do every first day of the week — on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.

The Scripture that came to my mind was 1 Corinthians 10:17: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

Port Vila, Vanuatu

This reminder that Christians are one body scattered around the globe seemed especially poignant to me on this Lord’s Day that almost escaped my notice.

I thanked God for our worldwide community of faith — and of course, Jesus — as I ate the bread and drank the cup.

I did so again the following Sunday when I worshiped with The Point Church of Christ, a friendly, 100-member congregation in Brisbane, Australia.

Related: Australian teen who lost her mom to cancer dreams of leading her country

Again, I couldn’t help but notice that the Australian congregation uses the same portable communion packet that my home church does. (I suppose this is true in a lot of places since the COVID-19 pandemic.)

At communion time, I again thought about my brothers and sisters at the Edmond Church of Christ, north of Oklahoma City. It was about 10 a.m. in Brisbane but only 6 p.m. Saturday in Edmond. But I knew we would once again be connected through the Lord’s Supper as the hours passed around the globe.

By the following week, I was back home. I was still a little jet-lagged and weary from traveling over 20,000 miles total. But thankfully, I didn’t forget what day it was.

In fact, I was scheduled even before my trip to offer the communion thoughts that Sunday.

I couldn’t help but share my experience in Vanuatu and Australia — and convey my excitement to be back that morning to remember Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and share in the Lord’s Supper.

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: air travel Australia bobby ross Jr communion flights Flying Inside Story International Lord's Supper Opinion Top Stories travel Vanuatu

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