Life is a banquet and we are all starving to death. We eat and drink and yet we are never satisfied. There must be more. Today’s message is that there is more. God is calling us to the banquet table. And what a banquet table it is!
But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will throw a feast for all the people of the world, A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines, a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish the pall of doom hanging over all peoples, The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
Yes, he’ll banish death forever. And God will wipe the tears from every face. He’ll remove every sign of disgrace From his people, wherever they are. Yes! God says so!
Also at that time, people will say, “Look at what’s happened! This is our God! We waited for him and he showed up and saved us! This God, the one we waited for! Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation. Isaiah 25:6-9(TMSG)
Caviar. Steak. Lobster. All served with a choice Cabernet Sauvignon and topped off with cherry-topped cheese cake! What a feast. The Good Shepherd will prepare this feast for us in the very presence of those who reject Him and his message of hope and liberation.
Once we have dined at the table of God, the pall of death will be cast away and tears will cease. All will be well. Every manner of thing will be well!
Jesus picks up on the banquet theme in Matthew 15:
After Jesus returned, he walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took his place, ready to receive visitors. They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute—all sorts of people in need—and more or less threw them down at Jesus’ feet to see what he would do with them. He healed them.
When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them.
But Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He called his disciples and said, “I hurt for these people. For three days now they’ve been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can’t send them away without a meal—they’d probably collapse on the road.” Matthew 15:29-32(TMSG)
Before Jesus feeds the four thousand, he heals them. He makes them whole so that they can enjoy the banquet he will set before them. Loaves and fish a banquet? When you are poor and hungry, it is a feast.
Healings, eating choice foods and fine wines—all signs of the Kindom among us. Come. Come, eat without cost. Even the pall of death that hovers over our lives will be lifted.
Caroline Myss says that all healing comes from a mystical place within us. In a sense, mysticism is all about letting go and trusting in God. Death is our final letting go so we can come to the banquet God has prepared for us.
Recently, I was called to pray with and anoint a friend who was fast approaching death. God blessed us as we prayed with him, his wife and friends. God blessed him. I chose to begin our prayer time with Psalm 23. I later learned that his favorite holy card was a picture of the Good Shepherd cuddling a little lamb on his shoulder. Praying the 23rd Psalm with him empowered him to let go. His wife said he was a peace from that point until his death the next morning.
Death is the final healing, the final letting go. It is preceded in life by the “little” letting goes that are part of our daily journey. God is always preparing us for the banquet God wants to share with us—the fullness of life.
The Eucharist is a sign of what is to come in its fullness. How dare we control who comes to God’s table? Come. Come without price. Come without labels. All are welcome at the feast God is preparing for us—Jew and Greek, gay and straight, male and female, Democrat, Republican and Tea Party, American and Chinese, rich and poor. Let all come to the table of God!
“Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water!”