Long ago when the earth was young and the animals could speak, there lived two friends in a forest by the river. Mr. Fox lived in a cave in the rocks, and his friend Miss. Stork lived in the reeds by the water. One day the fox caught a fat hen and ate her with relish. Somehow a bone got stuck in his throat and he could not get it out. He coughed and he hiccupped and turned his head around but to no avail. Watching his plight the stork said,
“Brother Fox, please open your mouth as wide as you can and I will pick the bone out with my long beak.”
The Fox opened his mouth and the stork put her head in and pulled out the bone. The fox was very happy and invited the stork to supper that evening.
The fox decided to cook a sumptuous meal for his friend. Chicken noodle soup was his favorite dish and he prepared it. The delicious aroma of the soup welcomed the stork as she arrived at the house. The fox greeted her at the door and led her to the dining room. He had spread out his best tablecloth and set the table with a vase of Iris flowers and white candles in silver stands. He laid out two sparkling soup plates. The friends sat down and after saying grace the fox poured out the rich flavored soup onto the plates.
“Go on eat, my friend, the soup is very good. It is my treasured recipe and I made it especially for you.”
The poor stork with her long beak could not even taste the soup. She tried to pick the noodles but they kept slipping away. She could only eat the chicken pieces. After the meal she thanked the fox and said that the chicken was delightful.
This is one my mother’s stories, whose origin I do not know. All her stories had a moral and the one for this was:
“The excellence of a feast lies in its appropriateness rather than its value.”
This is a principle worth considering when preparing a banquet or feast. Normally the purpose of a feast is to honor a person or celebrate an occasion. Sometimes a rich man would use it as an opportunity to show-off his wealth or a king to proclaim his power and fame. The Persian King Xerxes held a banquet that lasted six months to show the riches of the imperial court with all its splendor and majesty. (Esther 1:4).
Whatever the reason the focus of the feast should not be lost sight of. When Martha complained to Lord Jesus that Mary was not helping her prepare the feast, He gently reminded her that she was missing the purpose of the feast, which was to honor the guest and not the meal.
The excellence of the feast does not lie in its value. To the tired and travel- weary prophet, Elijah, the tiny loaf of bread and a cup of water offered by the widow woman of Zarephath, was a real banquet. To the lonely, poor foreigner, Ruth, the roasted grain at the table of Boaz was more than a feast.
Above all the most excellent, most magnificent, the most precious and most blessed feast of all was the one where thirteen men shared bread and wine in the upper room that fateful Thursday night two thousand years ago. It was a banquet in honor of the sacrifice the Son of God was going to make by shedding His blood and dying on the cross in perfect atonement for human sin. Through the centuries Christians everywhere remember, honor, cherish and celebrate that Feast. Its value is not measured by the cost of the bread and wine, but by the priceless Blood and Body of the Savior which they represent,
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