..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Feast of God: Dining at God’s Table of Mercy

The Feast of God: Dining at God’s Table of Mercy
and Truth. Part 1.

Mercy and truth have met together.
righteousness and peace have kissed. (Psalm 85:10).

The way of God is truth ministered in
mercy. The ways of God are a righteous
blend of what God requires, and what is
life-giving and restful to the spirit,
meeting together in holy intimacy. What
God wants to give you will both satisfy
Him and sustain you.

How sadly we misjudge our Lord. Some of
us err in the view that God is a
disinterested Judge that needs to be
persuaded to act or will act in ways
that will burden us. God,who pours out
gift after gift, who poured out His
Son for us without measure, is not
heavy-handed or a strict Father
without compassion. By no means.

Perhaps number one on my “Favorite
Movies” list is “Babette’s Feast.”
Every so often I put it on and have
myself a good cry. Not a sad cry, a
good cry. An inspired, grateful

Babette is a world class cook
that has to flee to a sparse and cold
spiritual community in a sparse and
cold land. The people of the
community fear God but they do
not know Him. There is no sweetness.
No mercy. Only truth. Cold hard truth.
The people do what they feel God expects
but there is no overflow of life or
love in their hearts. For them God is
a hard taskmaster. They eat gruel.
They feel God wants them to eat it,
even serves it up to them. They
dress darkly, they live austerely.

Mercy has no place for there
is only duty. ”Do what is right
or pay the consequences” is what
they understand. Perhaps you may
ask forgiveness but only ask one
time, after that there is no
excuse for error. What a tightrope
to walk! What a dark place to try
and trap the life of God in. But
hallelujah, God’s life shall not
be trapped!

But back to the story. Babette is
asked to cook for the family she
lives with. They are a family that
have given up not just evil pleasure,
but ALL pleasure, forsaken it as if
there was no place in God’s world
for light and life. They are living
as if this world must be endured,
in order to get to the next one.
And so, in some small but certain
way, because of what we have chosen,
it must.

The glorious thing is that there can
be and should be so much more. After
many years in exile, Babette learns that
she has won the lottery and has come into
a sum of money. She asks permission to
cook a special meal for a special occasion
in the life of the community. The
community does not want to offend her
so they allow it, but they fear the worse.

They watch boatloads of exotic supplies
come by sea to their home and they
conjecture that all of this has satanic
overtones, that the way of gruel is the
Way, and that overabundant life is
something to be spit out. What they do
not know is that Babette has spent ALL
her money to provide this meal. Excuse
me while a wave of gratefulness to God
for His willingness to spend His all for
us sweeps over me!

A special guest is at the dinner. He alone
figures out who Babette is. The rest agree
to eat Babette’s feast sparingly and to
not enjoy it. The finest dinner imaginable
is served. The guests try to hate it, but
what makes me cry is how sweetly and
wonderfully this hardened community, which
has almost reached the end of its life
together, a life that has turned to
backbiting and arguing, comes slowly
and wonderfully to life. The food works
its life-giving effect.

Reconciliation occurs. Laughter breaks out.
Love flows. All without awareness of the
power of life that is bringing it forth.
I cry my brains out every single time.

Consider the banquet of God. Consider that
Babette points to Christ, an exile of the
Father’s heart sent forth out of God’s
passion to love the world back into His
bosom. Beloved, God holds out an
unimaginable banquet to us and we treat
Him like an unlearned and unrecognized

Yet perhaps even in the sinful overeating
of our society we feel a great truth. In
the eating of the True Banquet is life
and fulfillment. Perhaps we know
intuitively that it is food that keeps
us going.

The Lord’s Supper is the original and
everlasting Comfort Food. To eat Him and
to drink Him is to know joy forevermore.
He is better than the deepest, darkest
chocolate, or the most sublime of wines.
In Him there is no lack, there is no hunger,
there is no thirst. To eat Him is joy
unspeakable. To drink Him is sheer inebriation.

How shall we eat Him you ask? You take
communion, dear ones, but you do not always
discern the Lord’s Body. Why are we hungry
and thirsty when the banquet table is ever
before us? Are you still only eating small
bits of bread and taking a sip of mere wine?
You must eat Him and drink Him. It is He who
has told us this. He is not the guest of honor
at the dinner, He IS the dinner.

The Lord’s Supper is not about singing “For
He’s a jolly good Fellow.” It is not thinking
sentimental thoughts about Jesus, because I
tell you now, in the heat of life’s trials,
that is not enough. We are spiritual beings
and our spiritual lives depend on spiritual
bread and drink just as our physical lives
depend on physical food. This is not a
metaphor nor does it happen by a mental
process. “Unless you eat of the flesh of
the Son of Man and drink of His blood, you
shall not have life with in you”(John 6:53).
Jesus told us that this would cause offence
and many would turn away. It is the
hard-to-digest truth that always does! But
thank God for His mercy. And now I see you
wondering…how is it that I spiritually eat,
and others are wondering, “Have I ever eaten?”

We will look at this in part two of this article.

No comments: