I was raised on church potlucks. It feels like to me we had them all the time when I was kid – fifth Sundays, a couple of times during the summers, and almost any other time we could find an excuse to have one. I love the church potluck because it does so much to form us into a people of God.
Everybody brings a dish to the church potluck, one they prepared or at least paid for, and places it on a common table and everybody shares. You’re cooking for each other at the potluck, serving one another. Everyone’s eating the same meal together. There’s unity: Hey, we’re one big family! There’s hospitality: Hey, y’all come sit with us! There are kind words: Who made this? Lisa made this? Lisa, this is so good! There is common conversation, common laughing, common love at the church potluck. And seventeen kinds of banana pudding!
I regret that church potlucks are disappearing because they are the closest thing we have today to the Lord’s Supper the way our Lord Jesus instituted it during his ministry and the way the first Christians practiced it in the early church. The potluck is the best thing we have for experiencing and expressing the unity, community, sharing, and love that happens when we’re saved.
The good news is that we are all invited to eat and drink at the great feast in the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ invitation to his banquet table is for you and me and for everybody you know. The best news is that it’s not a potluck.
You don’t bring anything to the feast but yourself. God through Christ has paid the price for the great banquet. He alone has prepared the feast and provided the meal. Nothing we could possibly bring to the table would be less than an insult to our gracious and generous Father.
We try, though. We try to pay our way in or contribute somehow to our salvation. We show up with a little bowl of self righteousness. We bring a little platter of good works with a side of baptism. We bring a basket of Bible classes and mission trips.
No, no, no! Jesus Christ has become for us our righteousness, holiness, and redemption! The great feast in the Kingdom of God has been completely paid for by Jesus at the cross! The whole thing is a free gift of our God’s amazing love and grace. The invitation is not to bring anything. It’s to sit together at the table with Christ to experience and express the abundance of God’s rich blessings.
It’s a feast where all the walls are down and the guest list is unlimited. Where crippled people are walking and blind people can see. Where hungry people are eating and sinful people are completely forgiven. Where enemies are sharing lunch and swords are turned into spoons and forks. And all you need to do is simply show up.