Here is a mosaic from the 12th Century. Abraham carries bread with cloth-covered hands in the same manner that an Orthodox priest carries the Eucharist.
What’s the connection between this story and the meal we share. A few things.
■ HOSPITALITY — Abraham goes out of his way to be hospitable. The visitors arrive in the “heat of the day.” Abraham abandons his plans so that he can show the proper hospitality — shaded rest and water to cool the feet — to those travelers. He also offers a morsel of bread.
Abraham is unaware he is speaking with the Creator and His angels (Hebrews 13:1–2). (Of course, we know this because we are told), ”Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” We read in Hebrews (13:2) referencing this event.
Abraham makes the guests not only feel welcome, but special. Communion is God’s gift to us. Christ as the host welcomes us to the table. We are treated with great love and importance. We are welcome and special. The gifts of God for the people of God. Each of us has a seat at the table, a place in God’s purpose for the world.
■ NOURISHMENT — While the strangers wash and rest in the shade of the great oak trees, Abraham promises to bring them a snack. Then he hurries to the tent and blurts out to Sarah, “Quickly take our finest flour, knead it, and make cakes.” To add to this generous of hot cakes, Abraham runs to his herd and selects a tender young calf and gives it to his servant, who hurries to prepare it. He then takes curds and milk and the calf, sets them before the strangers. This is not morsels of food but a banquet.
In communion, Jesus makes himself the food that nourishes and sustains us. When we receive Communion, we’re not just We nourish our souls with the body of Christ that sustains our spiritual lives. The bread and cup strengthen us to live as faithful Christians in a hostile world. The feast connects to the source of all holiness and spiritual strength, Jesus Christ.
■ GOOD NEWS — The messengers bring good news to Sarah. After a life of barrenness comes the miracle of bearing a child at her old age.
For us the Lord’s Supper brings us the Good News of Jesus and his love. His life and his death, for us. His resurrection, for us. His power and his grace, for us. God’s love poured out through the body and blood of Christ. That costly demonstration of love for us giving us new birth, new life.
■ HOPE — The impossible is made possible. Communion is a sacrament of hope. This sacred symbol is a sign of God’s coming reign. It is a sign of the promised transformation of all things. It looks toward a future in hope and with confidence. The victorious death and resurrection of Christ make a difference and will bring all creation to perfect fulfillment.