A timely meal

In the children’s story entitled, “Six-Dinner Sid”,[1] a cat named Sid eats six dinners a day. But not in one place, not just in one home does he enjoy a daily meal, but in six different, neighbourhood homes.

By the end of the story, the six neighbours, or hosts, that provide the meals for Sid don’t mind feeding him, don’t mind that he was getting six meals a day, don’t mind giving grace upon grace to Sid. They all loved Sid, who was by nature a six-dinner-a-day cat.

For Sid, the daily meal never ended. It went on, from one house to the next, every day. Kind of like a progressive dinner not just for different courses but a full meal each time! Lucky Sid.

Luke’s version of the Lord’s Supper presents a challenge of timing. For one thing, Jesus “eagerly desired”[2] to share this meal with his disciples. Yet, in the very next verse, he declares he won’t eat it until the Reign of God is fullfilled, presumably sometime far into the future, at the end of time. Not once but twice in these short verses Jesus says he will not partake of the meal “until the kingdom comes.”[3]

It’s like the meal is both in the present moment and at the same time never ended, never finished. The Eucharist is part of something that extends beyond any given moment. As with so much that surrounds the meaning and practice of the Holy Communion therein lies a holy mystery involving time and space.

Why doesn’t Jesus eat with his disciples the night before his death? Perhaps Jesus is being a good host. Jesus does not eat until the fulfilment of the Reign of God because as a good host who loves his guests he eats last. He first serves others with the gifts of God.

Jesus’ love is nevertheless not reserved only and exclusively for those first disciples in the Upper Room on that first Maundy Thursday. The Holy Meal began on Maundy Thursday. And, the Meal continues over time and in different places to its completion with the fulfilment of the kingdom of God, when Jesus finally eats—lastly—as a good host.[4]

The meal is ongoing because we, too, are part of that meal. God’s love in Christ embraces you and me and everyone who comes to the table of the Lord to be nourished in faith. The real presence of Christ is intended to embrace us all, in every time and every place:

Including, in our homes and at different times of the week, online even, whenever we watch the service. As we have been saying long before COVID in the introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer: “It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, almighty and everlasting God.”[5]

Not only here. Not only on Sundays. When Communion happens we’re not the ones creating all these separate Eucharistic meals, but rather we participate in the one Eucharistic Meal already happening.

Sid the cat was blessed with the gift of gracious hosts. In Christ, we have a host who does not hold back the gift of his presence and grace for us. Christ is the host of the one Meal in which we partake each time we eat and drink together in his name—wherever and whenever we are. Christ is the host whose love is so great that he will wait for us until all have eaten their fill. No matter how long the line is to Christ’s table, and no matter if you are at the back of that line, there will always be enough bread for you.

And with Paul, we can then express confidence in God, that God, “who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion”[6] at the end of time when Christ, too, will eat with us.

“Why do we have congregations?”—this is the question we have been asking throughout this month’s sermon series. Today, we answer by saying that we have congregations in order to connect with each other in meaningful, tangible and loving ways. We do this gathered around the table with all the saints in Christ, of every time and every place. 


[1] Inga Moore, Six-Dinner Sid (New York: Simon & Schuster, Aladdin Paperbacks, 1991)

[2] Luke 22:15

[3] Luke 22:16,18

[4] Thank you, to the Rev. Dr. Allen Jorgenson, Professor of Systematic Theology at Martin Luther University College, for articulating this response to the question of timing.

[5] Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2006), p.108

[6] Philippians 1:6

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