What a Great Feast!
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.‘“
Telling of the Story
In Children's Worship & Wonder (CW&W), we have the privilege to tell the stories of God. Some of those stories are parables, such as The Good Shepherd or The Great Banquet. The way we present the parable to the children is very special because parables are very precious, like gold. We explain how parables are like presents. They have already been given to us. We can't buy them, or take them, or steal them. They are already ours. And sometimes, parables seem to have lids on them. But when you lift the lid of a parable... there is something very precious inside.
Worship services are like a parable. You have to take "the lid off" to see what is inside. They are not always what they seem; you have to open up to receive the precious gift.
What a Great Feast!
During one of the summer camps I participated in (this particular camp was for upcoming 3rd - 5th graders), we held a full worship service each evening. We opened the first service with the telling of the The Great Banquet (CW&W style). During this time, the kids are immersed as they watch the story unfold before their eyes.
As the story was completed, we opened the stage curtains to reveal the scene of the master at the banquet table. The table was full of food and drinks, but there were no guests. The master called out to her servants to go and find guests to fill her table. The servants walked down into the crowd of children and began selecting a few to join them at the master's table. As soon as the children realized they could be invited to the table, all their hands shot up to the sky, waving with enthusiasm to be chosen!
When the first few kids were standing around the table, the master called her servants again, emphatically pleading that there was still more room for guests and to invite more to her table. Again, the servants walked out into the crowd, randomly picking kids to join the others. This goes on, as the master is calling, 'I think there is room for more! Yes, there is. There is room for everyone.' Once all the children are on stage, gathered around the table, the master looks around and asks, "Is there still room around the table for more?" The children agree - and the servants set out one last time to invite all the adults that are in the room.
Now standing shoulder to shoulder, barely fitting on the stage, we began to celebrate with communion. In CW&W, we refer to communion as 'the feast.' The servants served the elements of grapes and goldfish to each invited guest. After everyone was served, there was chatter and joy of community - just as it would be at any great feast!
The children were able to fully participate in the feast invitation. They didn't read the story in their bibles, or have the story told to them, or only watch the story come to life... they were invited to join the master at the feast table! In the fullness of the moment, all gathered around the table - tall, short, old, young, bookworms, confident, insecure, athletes, blondes, gingers, brunettes, different education levels, different physical abilities - it didn't matter. We knew that Jesus was there among us all.
Imagine with me, the Master is standing at the table, places set, food ready, His arms open - welcoming us to the great feast. The doors don't shut once we show up to the party. The Master is still calling, There is more room! In remembrance of Him, we are compelled to extend that same invitation to all, to join us at this great feast.
Then Jesus said to his host ...."But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 14:13-15 NIV
I invite you to also wonder with us. Remember, in this place, we have all the time we need.
I wonder how it felt to be invited to this great feast? ...
I wonder if these people have names? ...
I wonder who we are in this story? ...
I wonder how many people can fit at this table? ...
I wonder how we can open our hearts and tables to all of God's people? ...
I wonder who we will meet when we do? ...