The day I had wine with Jesus
A few years ago, my family took a spring break trip to Florida to visit my sister and brother-in-law. It was a mild winter, but the warmth and the Florida sun (which I miss most days) were welcome hosts. We had plans to attend one of the theme parks, and I REALLY wanted to go to the Holy Land Experience (which for lack of a better description is a theme park without rides). I learned about HLE the year before when we were stuck in traffic trying to get to dress fittings for my sister’s wedding. My Nannie bursting with joy said, “I really want to go there someday!” (Sadly, she never did, but she walks the streets of gold today.)
We were just going to go for the morning, but we kept finding more shows or more things to see and do that we stayed the whole day. Our party included three generations who all enjoyed themselves. I didn’t really intend for this to be a travelogue; so, you will have to check out the website if you want to learn more.
Our visit coincided with Easter week. We had heard over the radio and internet to arrive early that they were expecting record attendance for such an important week for Christians. They were not wrong, but my fear of crowds didn’t really overwhelm me there. (The theme park was another story.)
As today we mark the anniversary of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, I wanted to share my experience of dining with Jesus. At HLE, one of the opportunities you have is to have communion with “Jesus” – an actor who humbly takes on that role. My inner skeptic was a little leery, but from the moment I stepped inside the cave style dwelling, my imagination allowed me to transport myself to a time many years ago. Each person – man, woman, and child – is given a beautiful little cup carved from olive wood from the actual Holy Land (not the one in downtown Orlando).
“Jesus” talks with everyone, engaging both in his words and his eyes. He literally serves you bread and wine, and he blesses everyone there as he prays for the group as a whole. It was a mesmerizing experience – one that my children recall fondly. I remember having tears in my eyes because I knew that this actor was soon to be playing His role in the Passion. I knew the story by heart before that encounter, but it felt so much more real knowing that the “Jesus” with me was soon to be handed over.
Most of the other souvenirs from that trip have either been outgrown or garage sale fodder, but not those little wooden cups. We each still have them and lovingly we bring them out each Easter as a remembrance of the time we had wine with Jesus.
Precious memories. . . indeed!