Divine Hospitality

DIVINE HOSPITALITY

bread of life 13

It may surprise many that as a Salvationist I participate in the Eucharist (The Lord’s Table) at every opportunity. That’s because The Salvation Army does not prohibit Salvationists from participating in a scriptural ordinance that John Wesley considered an effective means of grace.

                                   “Though part of everyday life, hospitality is never removed                                   from its divine connections.”    –  Christine Pohl

You may remember a line in an oldmovie – “The meal was divine!” For nearly five decades, the meals prepared with my wife (I’m the sous chef) often seem truly divine as Irene developed over the years into a world class master of the culinary arts (my opinion). What often makesour dining time together divine is not the fabulous provocation of our taste buds. Rather it is sharing of meal with others and the fellowship around the table.

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Christine Pohl states –“Especially in the context of sharedmeals, the presence of God’s Kingdom is prefigured, revealed, and reflected. Jesus asgracious host feeds over five thousand people on a hillside, and later explains to the crowd that he is the bread of life, living bread for them from heaven. He offers living water to any who are thirsty (John 6-7). He is himself both host and meal – the very source of life.”


Dr. Pohl goes on to ponder the divine hospitality of the Eucharist and how closely a shared meal is to that divine act. . .

“In the last supper with his disciples, Jesus fills the basic elements of a meal with richest symbolic meaning – the bread is his body, the wine, his blood. Eating together, ritualized in the Lord’s Supper, continually reenacts the center of the gospel. As we remember the cost of our welcome, Christ’s broken body and shed blood, we also celebrate the reconciliation and relationship available to us because of his sacrifice and through his hospitality. The Eucharist most fundamentally connects hospitality with God because it anticipates and reveals the “heavenly table of the Lord.” In that sacrament, we are nourished on our journey towards God’s banquet table, even as we experience the present joy and welcome associated with sharing in that table. A shared meal is the activity most closely tied to the reality of God’s Kingdom, just as it is the most basic expression of hospitality.”

What a blessing it is to remember the last sentence of the quote above each time we sit down with others who respond to our invitation to dine together. When we do so in Jesus’ name and say that the meal was “divine” we may be confessing a “double entendre” and an absolute truth!

[1] Christine Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition (Eerdmans, 1999), p 30.

 

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