I’m prepping for Sunday’s sermon, the last in a series on the Prodigal Son. I’m talking about the feast, at the center of the story, the feast the serves as the hinge between the younger son’s return and the older son’s reticence. I’ve been thinking about the connection between communion and the feast.
Communion is an interim practice, bridging between the cross and the coming kingdom. It is a reminder of what happens at either end of the interim. It reminds us that Christ laid out the cash ahead of time for the feast that’s coming. He put down the deposit on a fatted calf and a keg. Communion reminds us of the price of admission. It’s also a foretaste of the feast that’s coming. Like at a BBQ, when you cut off just a little corner of the tri-tip and bring it over for someone to taste. It’s a small portion now to remind you of the bounty that’s coming.
Whenever Jesus uses the image of the feast, there are always two groups of people in the story: those who believe themselves deserving of a feast, and those who are shocked to be invited. In Matthew 8:11, “many come from the east and west, and take their place at the feast with Abraham” but the subjects of the kingdom are thrown out. In Luke 14 the invited guests beg off and refuse to come, so the doors are thrown open to the forgotten, who flood the king’s banquet hall. In the prodigal son story, the self-righteous brother believes he deserves a feast, and refuses to celebrate with his brother. The younger brother knows he deserves nothing, and so is welcomed back with joy and celebration.
The feast is for sinners.