George Bowers Sr.: Accept the invitation to dinner
A little over a year ago, Nancy and I had the privilege of traveling to Germany for a wedding of a close friend. It was a joyous occasion and we still revisit many wonderful memories not only of the wedding itself, but also of our travels afterward.
One of our excursions took us to southern Germany in the region of Bavaria and to the town of Garmisch. The scenery and landscape in this part of the country is unbelievably beautiful with soaring mountains and lush green valleys. Our days in this area were truly a highlight of our trip.
While visiting there, we toured several castles that were built in the late 1800s. A very wealthy, but somewhat strange, King Ludwig II constructed four castles in that region finishing only one of them before his untimely and controversial death. One of his most magnificent structures, Neuschwanstein, is the building from which the Disney castle is fashioned and has one of the most impressive exteriors of any building in the world. The interior, however, is largely unfinished with only a few of its many rooms being open to tourists. But that’s another column.
King Ludwig built other elaborate homes known as Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, and Munich Residenz Palace, employing some of the best craftsmen in the world to carve his ornate woodwork, create incredible porcelain decorations, and overlay his designs with pure gold. Even though many of these structures are unfinished, what is completed is breathtaking and inspiring.
King Ludwig himself, however, is another story. Being somewhat of a loner, he rarely ever entertained in any of his castles. Since he never married and was alienated from his family, most of his own relatives never got to see inside of any of these impressive buildings that are now, ironically, visited by millions of tourists every year.
Perhaps saddest of all is the fact that King Ludwig most often dined alone with only his wealth. In one of his opulent dining rooms, he even had an elevator table that was operated by servants working pulleys who would set and clean each course of every meal as the table was lowered to, and hoisted from, the kitchen. He did not want to be disturbed by them as he ate by himself. While I can understand his occasional need for solitude and reflection, to make such isolation a lifetime practice is quite a sad commentary on his personality.
This rich but odd king’s aloofness is contrasted sharply by another even wealthier king. Instead of withdrawing into his quarters and separating himself from others, he left his luxury in glory to spend time with individuals far beneath him not only in location, but also in morality, taste, character and every other imaginable way. He did so by his own choosing and spent ove 30 years living freely among the people he ruled. This decision proved very costly as his subjects eventually crucified him on a wooden cross because they didn’t believe he was who he was.
Before he died, however, he hosted a banquet for his closest friends during which He extended a formal invitation to them and us not only to visit the castle he is building, but to move in with him there as well! Since his wealth, creativity, and craftsmanship far surpass that of all humanity, the castles of Bavaria will pale in comparison to the magnificence of Heaven.
But here’s the best part, if not the most astounding: instead of dining alone, this great king has invited us all to join him around his table. Not just in glory later, but here on this Earth as he promised to be present each time we gather for Holy Communion. The bread and cup are very real reminders to us of the price he paid to purchase us. The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday and a time for all who call themselves by the name of King Jesus to accept his offer and take our places around his divine table of grace. Accept his invitation and celebrate this meal with Jesus and fellow Christians next Sunday.
See you at the table, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his latest book of poetry, “Holy Verses.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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