If you go to a fancy dinner party, chances are that you will be served an appetizer—crackers and cheese, grapes, hors-d’oeuvres, fruit punch, wine. An appetizer is food, but it is not the dinner. It is food that anticipates, promises, whets the appetite for the main course that will be served in a little while.
Pioneers who crossed the North American prairies sometimes were given an appetizer of the destination towards which they were moving. After a long hard trek, the wagon trains would climb a mountain, and from the top the pioneers could see, way off in the distance, the lush plain that would be their future home. That brief glimpse was a promise, a foretaste, an appetizer of the new land ahead of them. It would encourage and energize them to keep on trekking.
This Sunday, October 5, those attending The First Mennonite Church will be offered an appetizer. It will be food, though not a meal. It will be a glimpse of a new land, not a final destination. We call the appetizer that we will be invited to receive “communion.”
The bread and cup of communion offer a taste now, ahead of time, of the banquet which God will make for all people at the full coming of God’s Kingdom. The bread and cup offer a glimpse of the city of God that is coming, where the sick are healed and the hungry are fed and all wars cease. Like our tasty pre-dinner appetizers, the bread and cup of communion whet our appetites to keep on trekking in faith toward the restored creation that is coming, in which God and humanity will live together in harmony.
Jesus invited his disciples to eat the bread and drink the cup, out of loyalty to him and in anticipation of God’s coming Kingdom. The same invitation is also there for us. Let us come and eat, give thanks and rejoice.