Abigail, age 3 and her mother are at a church one Sunday for a special service. It’s been a long service and she’s looking forward to communion (to get up and move around). Mother does communion and she gets a hands-on-the-head blessing which she is not too crazy about from a pastor she doesn’t know. On their way away from the communion rail, she sits down on the step – chin on hands – glaring. Realizing this may be the beginning of a major scene, the mother quickly scoops her up back to their pew. She buries her head in her mothers shoulders and is crying. Her mother know she’s tired and it’s nearly lunch-time, but can’t figure out this reaction. After much coaxing to find out what’s wrong, she’s indignant as she says to me: “I don’t like the one in the green (pastor’s vestment) – he just talked to me but he left me hungry!”
Every once in awhile, the person who delivers our mail will make a mistake. Among the various bills, catalogs and other items in the mail my neighbor’s name appears on one. Do I open it? Do I presume that it’s meant for me as well as for him? The letter has his name on it, so it’s his mail. What I do is ring his doorbell and hand it over to him.
Here is a meal spread before us. This is not a normal meal, but a very special meal. And you as a Christian have a special invitation to eat at this table. This meal was not prepared for the unbeliever. This meal was not prepared for those who don’t feel that they need God. But it is for you and for me, for those who are hurting, lonely, sinful and poor in spirit. Because of our desire for reconciliation with God we have been invited.
Our invitation was a specific invitation, not a general invitation that went out in the mail and read “present resident” or “occupant.” It was by the Master who only invited twelve to the upper room. Who in the course of the meal sent Judas away because his heart wasn’t right for the invitation. It was an invitation by a God that knows the very number of hairs on my head. And invited me by name.
Mysteriously and supernaturally this meal is unlike any other meal you will ever have. It contains two elements, bread and wine. Jesus Himself defined the two elements in the upper room. As the Disciples had gathered for the Passover Meal.
Jesus took the bread. He said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” What Jesus is saying, is not that the bread literally becomes His body. But that the bread represents His body because with the bread is carried the story of the incarnation! “And the Word became flesh…” That which is “mystical,”“supernatural,” and “spiritual,” God, took on the form of flesh, became human. When we hold up this piece of bread and take it, we confess and confirm our belief in the incarnation of Christ. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He took the cup, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” The new covenant reminds the hearer of the old Mosaic covenant, which could only condemn. Now, in the new covenant we find that God has fulfilled the old for us. In my blood points to the sphere and basis of the covenantal blessings. In other words, this cup is the new covenant and it cost my blood, is what Jesus is saying. Taking this cup, confesses and confirms your belief in the resurrection of Christ, and your acceptance of God’s forgiveness.
So, how do we get an invitation to this dinner party? Matt 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, `Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off-one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. We are here because we have been invited by the King Himself.
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Fleming had saved. “I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did.” At that moment, the farmer’s son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is that your son?” the nobleman asked. “I’ll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll grow to a man you can be proud of.” And that he did. Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming the discoverer of Penicillin. Years afterward, the nobleman’s son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Randolph Churchill. His son? Sir Winston Churchill.
Someone once said: What goes around comes around. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.