Monday, September 30, 2013

The feast of heaven

Yesterday I preached from Luke 16:19-31, a text that in many Bibles is called "The Rich Man and Lazarus."  I read a number of different translations as I prepared to preach and one of them, the Good News Translation, had a particularly powerful way of picturing Lazarus and Abraham together, saying in verse 22:

"The poor man [Lazarus] died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the feast in heaven."

I invited the people in church to imagine a particularly fine meal or celebration that they may have been a part of, and then suggested that the "feast in heaven" would be something that was much more magnificent and lavish then the best celebration they had ever experienced. 

While we could only use our imaginations to think of this feast it was my privilege after preaching to bring a taste of the feast to the congregation in the form of the Lord's Supper.

As part of the liturgy for this part of our worship service I read these words:

"We come in hope, believing that this bread and this cup are a pledge and foretaste of the feast of love of which we shall partake when his kingdom has fully come, when with unveiled face we shall behold him, made like unto him in his glory."

There is a lot of theology and biblical imagery packed into that paragraph, and within the broad umbrella label of "Christian" there would be many points of both agreement and disagreement about what those words, and the Lord's Supper, mean.  I'm just going to focus on the two words I placed in bold, pledge and foretaste.

At the Lord's Table I believe that we experience in a palpable way, a physical way, a reminder of God's promises to us.  We chew, taste and swallow the bread.  We sip, swirl, taste and swallow the juice.  The Lord's Supper is both a physical and spiritual experience.  Our various senses are actively engaged.

And we know that God is present with us by his Spirit, which is a foretaste that whets our appetite for the same experience that Luke pointed to in his Gospel and is promised to every person who calls on Christ in faith.   

If you know this promise of God is true for you, I thank and praise God, and I invite you to consider who you know that doesn't know this promise as their own, and to whom God may be calling you to bring his Good News to.

And if you have read this far and don't know this promise of God as including you, then I invite you to read the full text of Luke at the link above and contact me privately, because I would be glad to help you understand that God's promises are not just for me, but for you too.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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