Appetizer (noun) 1. an hors d’oeuvre 2. a mere taste of something that leaves one craving more.
Trencher (noun) 1. flat round of old, stale bread used as a plate in medieval times. 2. wooden platter for serving meat or other food.
One of my favorite stories from childhood before I could even read remains a favorite to this day—maybe more so now that I’m able to dig deep and understand its meaning. It’s John Bunyan’s allegorical book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, published in 1678. There’s a passage in Part II where Christiana and her entourage are guests at the home of a man named Gaius. They are preparing to dine at his table when Christiana’s son Matthew speaks of his growing appetite: Now the cook … sent one to lay the cloth, the trenchers, and to set the salt and bread in order. Then said Matthew, The sight of this cloth, and of this fore-runner of the supper, begetteth in me a greater appetite to my food than I had before.
Matthew’s comment is then given a spiritual analogy by Gaius: So let all ministering doctrines to thee, in this life, beget in thee a greater desire to sit at the supper of the great King in His kingdom; for all preaching, books, and ordinances here, are but as the laying of the trenchers, and as setting of salt upon the board, when compared with the feast that our Lord will make for us when we come to His house.
As I reflect on Thanksgiving and the grand feast we enjoyed, I’m reminded of the analogy of Gaius. Jesus invites us to eat heartily, to study and learn. He is there in our presence—our daily bread. These spiritual appetizers are as Gaius said “but as the laying of the trenchers.” Whenever we study God’s word, we are receiving a taste of the good things that God desires for His children. The more we study, the greater is our hunger to learn more. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that my hunger will never be fully satisfied until He gathers us all together at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Taste and see that the LORD is good … Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
Hors d’oeuvres, anyone?