Thursday, November 22, 2012

Come to the Table (2012)

And God blessed them...And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Gen. 1:28-29)

From the beginning, God has provided food for his children. God designed and created a breathtakingly beautiful world that produces an abundance of good food to sustain human life.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!...You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. (Ps. 104:1, 14, 15)

But God’s desire is not simply to feed us in order to provide for our physical sustenance. Throughout the Bible we learn that God wants us to eat and drink with him in fellowship, thanksgiving, and celebration of our close relationship with him.

From the Garden to the Passover Lamb to the covenant renewal meal on Mount Sinai, from manna in the wilderness to the shared meal of the peace offering every time they gathered for worship, God is not only providing food for his people, but also calling us to eat and drink with him.

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel...they beheld God, and ate and drank. (Ex. 24:9, 11)

In the Gospels we often find Jesus eating and drinking with Pharisees, disciples, and sinners alike. He turns water to wine, he miraculously feeds the masses, and he tells parables of fathers and masters who prepare feasts and invite others to come and dine with them.

Even after his resurrection, several of the accounts of Jesus are related to food.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent. So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. (Luke 24:28-31)

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace be to you!’ But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit...And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:36-37, 41-43)

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread...Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’...Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. (John 21:9, 12, 13)

And when Jesus returns at the renewal of all things, our new life together with God in the new earth will begin, of course, with a banquet.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; 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, ‘Behold, 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. (Is. 25:6-8)

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ (Rev. 19:9)

So let us come to the table today and always with family, friends, and neighbors and give thanks.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Ps. 136:1)

As we eat and drink together, may we catch the scent of the banquet to come, marvel at the grace of God, and lift our glasses to sing his praise.

My Shepherd will supply my need: Jehovah is His Name; In pastures fresh He makes me feed, Beside the living stream. He brings my wandering spirit back When I forsake His ways, And leads me, for His mercy’s sake, In paths of truth and grace. 
When I walk through the shades of death Thy presence is my stay; One word of Thy supporting breath Drives all my fears away. Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, Doth still my table spread; My cup with blessings overflows, Thine oil anoints my head. 
The sure provisions of my God Attend me all my days; O may Thy house be my abode, And all my work be praise. There would I find a settled rest, While others go and come; No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home. (Isaac Watts, 1719)