Summary: PENTECOST 21, YEAR A - God calls us to the wedding feast of the Lamb. Christians need to learn how to feast.
In 1971, Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran gave a four-day celebration commemorating the Persian Empire’s its 2500th birthday. The focal point of the event was a huge banquet feast, the banquet hall being a gigantic silk tent lighted with $840,000 worth of colored lights! The guest list matched the occasion: the Shah invited more than 600 dignitaries from 69 nations. The cost to the Shah’s estate for this festival was $100 million dollars. It’s amazing to think about. We just don’t understand this concept of "feasting" anymore. The word is barely in our vocabulary. We barely have the time to eat together anymore. We nuke our individual meals and eat them in the car or in front of the TV. Fast food is the way of choice, sort of like pulling the car up at the gas pump. We want our food in sixty seconds or less. The same, sadly, can be said about our attitude towards our relationship with God, and our expectations of God. We want our forgiveness in sixty minutes or less. The Crystal Cathedral has drive-in slots. A clever company is now marketing individually packaged grape juice and wafers. Communion to go. Hermetically sealed for your safety, of course. What does this all mean? It means that we’ve lost the value God places upon the feast.
FEASTING IN THE BIBLE
Feasting in the Bible is food combined with fellowship, eating in the company of your fellow believers, and in the company of God. God loves a party, and the center of the party is His Son, the Lamb who was slain but lives. In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes heaven as a wedding party thrown by a king. In the OT, Isaiah looks to the day of God’s promise and likewise sees a feast. On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” That’s what we are going to talk about today: food and fellowship, celebrating our salvation, feasting at God’s table. And there is no better celebration of that feast of salvation than Martin Franzmann’s hymn, O Kingly Love, which rejoices in God’s love that spreads a banquet table as wide as His heart.
O kingly Love, that faithfully
Didst keep thine ancient promises,
Didst bid the bidden come to thee,
The people thou didst choose to bless.
The invitations were sent out long ago engraved by the hand of God, addressed by name to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to all God’s people. God’s invitation was written on stone at Sinai from the King to His chosen people Israel: "I will be your God, and you will be my people." At Sinai the 70 elders of Israel ate and drank in the presence of God. An Invitation Rooted in a Divine Promise. Israel was a people bound and bidden by God’s promises, ancient promises that reached back through the centuries to that first Promise God spoke in a Paradise shattered by Adam and Eve’s rebellion - "I will put enmity between you and the woman." God promised a Savior, a Deliverer, One who would defeat death and the devil. God made a people of His promise. He promised Abraham a homeland and descendants as numerous as grains of sand on the beach. He repeated his promise to Isaac and Jacob. He swore an oath on His Name that He would do it. He conceived His people in Egypt and gave them birth through the water of the Red Sea. He raised them in the wilderness and brought them to the promised land of Canaan where they grew and prospered. They were His chosen people - chosen for the sole purpose of bringing forth His Son. Time after time, God recalled His promises. He dusted them off and read them regularly to His People Israel through the prophets, the way lovers reread their old love letters to each other. "On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make a feast for all peoples." God promised a feast of salvation, an eating and drinking that would take away death forever. The Passover lamb and the sacrifice meals were foretastes of the feast to come. God and man in communion, table fellowship, eating and drinking together. That was one way salvation was pictured in the OT. A lavish dinner party where God was the host and you were the honored guest.