[Jesus told his disciples,] "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going" (John 14:1-4).
Quite a few years ago, a group of teenagers and college students shared a mission trip to Thailand. They experienced many things together — sharing worship and communion with people from 12 different languages in Bangkok, ministering in a leprosy colony, experiencing an earthquake, working alongside Christian street vendors, and witnessing to Thai university students. The food requirement, however, had a profound impact on their trip: they could not eat American food for the first 12 days. They mostly ate Thai food from street vendors. This guideline kept them from having a cultural escape hatch at meal time and anchored them in Thai culture.
On day 12, they went to downtown Chiang Mai and ate at the Burger King®. While everyone loved their Thailand experience, most grew homesick. The taste of hamburgers and French fries in a place that felt familiar made them feel a little more culturally stabilized while on the opposite side of the planet. They enjoyed a taste of home and felt ready to face the rest of their trip.
We easily forget how important meals, food, and friendship are to our sense of home. However, the Lord who made us also anchored our time together as disciples with a simple meal we call Holy Communion, The Supper, the Eucharist, and The Lord's Supper. We share The Supper to remember what Jesus did for us. We share this time with each other as Jesus' body, the church, made up of connected and gifted people who belong to one another. At the same time, this simple meal is our taste of home. It is an "anticipatory reminder" of the great celebration that lies ahead when we go home to the Father.
This simple meal of bread and fruit of the vine goes far beyond bread and wine. It is our reminder of the future Jesus purchased for us with his death, burial, and resurrection. Like the student's trip to Burger King® in Thailand, Communion is our taste of home. It is a way to satisfy our longing for home while intensifying our expectation of being with those we love at God's eternal table of joy. There's an old song ("Home of the Soul" by James Rowe) that captures our longing and expectation:
Lonely are we.
Longing for home,
Sighing for Thee.
If we are open about our longing, the Lord makes this bread and wine our taste of home. We can leave The Table satisfied with grace, yet hungry for our future with Jesus. As Paul says:
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).
Prayer for the Bread:
O Father of grace and giver of every good gift, thank you for this bread. Holy Spirit, use this bread to temporarily satisfy our hungry souls with a taste of home. Thank you, Jesus, for your gift that marked your body with scars proclaiming your love and grace. We receive this bread to remember your sacrifice and anticipate our coming home with you. Amen.
Prayer for the Cup:
Almighty God, thank you for your sacrificial love that triumphed over sin, death, and hell for us in Jesus! This cup is a reminder of our future with you that was so lovingly won through Jesus' great sacrifice. We thank you in his name. Amen.