O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Gifts worthy of thanks
Gifts worthy of thanks
Based on Is. 25:6-9
Preached on October 12, 2014
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Fellow baptized saints, it's that wholesome time of year again, isn't it? Leaves are changing colour. That cool edge is in the air. And the ovens are on, filling our homes with heat, as families huddle together and give thanks for the harvest with which Almighty God has blessed us. Now is the time for feasting. Now is the time for eating enough turkey to force you into a nap. Now is the time for Thanksgiving.
Most of us have received invitations to be guests at the feast. Not everyone can host. But there are certain expectations that surround being a guest, aren't there? It is customary and polite for a guest to bring something for the host, to contribute in some way to the feast they are throwing. Maybe the guest brings a bottle of wine, or some dinner rolls, or perhaps a pie or two, because when it comes to a feast as big as Thanksgiving everyone does their part.
In our Old Testament lesson this morning, the prophet Isaiah declares that God will be hosting a feast, that the Lord Himself is preparing a meal in which you are His invited guest. And He isn't sparing any expense either! The prophet tells us it will be a feast of rich food - a feast of delicacies - food that only kings may eat, food that you have never had before. It will be a feast of well-aged wine - wine stored up for years, until the right time for it to be brought out. It will be a feast of rich food that is full of marrow - that is, healthy food - desirable food - the absolute best that money can buy. Your host has been preparing this feast for years, from eternity even, making sure everything is just right for you, and He promises it will be a feast unlike any other.
Now God had feasted with His people Israel on Mount Sinai, when He made His covenant with them and gave them His Law. But here, on this mountain, the LORD of hosts will make a feast for all peoples. For Jew and non-Jew alike. Here on Mount Zion, surrounded by His people, God will make a new feast - and chances are, though described so wonderfully, it is not the kind of feast you might expect.
For this new feast your God promised through the prophet Isaiah is His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Christ was stored up for years, like well-aged wine, until the right time for Him to be brought out. Christ is food that is rich beyond comparison - a delicacy of One. And Christ came to be crucified on this mountain, surrounded by His own people, so that His marrow - His health, His life - might be given to us.
This is why God makes this feast, isn't it? Because the only thing eating right now is death. Death is devouring us. Death is swallowing life, every day, everywhere you look. It covers all we do and all we are, and there is no escaping it. This life is veiled in mourning, shrouded in separation, and blanketed with a violent end. But God has prepared a feast, and has called you as His guest, because there is something very important He wants you to bring to the party. There is something of yours that He wants you to bring to this mountain as His guest - and it is your death. Christ is hungry for this feast, and for Him sin and death are on the menu.
Isaiah proclaims, "He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples. He will swallow up death forever." God sent Christ to eat death - to devour its power forever. Christ is death's pestilence - Christ is death's cancer - Christ is death's executioner - for He cannot be held by it - He cannot be finished by it - He has not remained it in, but has triumphed over it, murdered it, crucified it, so that He can wipe away every tear from your face - so that He can take away your fears, take away your anxieties, take away your sorrow, because your Lord, the LORD of hosts, fights for you.
The LORD has spoken - Behold - He has done it! And it will be said on that day, Behold, this is our God - here He is - on the cross - conquering death - wrestling it into the earth, that it might never touch His people again - this is our God - facing our foes, forgiving our failures, removing our reproach - making Himself a feast of death and resurrection, sin and forgiveness, body and blood. This is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us. Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.
You have new life in Christ, but you don't see it, do you? You know heaven is your home, but you aren't there, are you? That is because the Christian lives between two worlds. Until your death, you are part of this old world which is passing away. You wrestle with your old self, the old man. You are tempted by the temporary things of this world which all end in death. And yet in Christ, even now, you are a citizen of the new world, the life of the world to come. You long to see what Isaiah describes with your own eyes. You look forward to the fulfillment of God's salvation, His kingdom, His feast. In Christ, you belong in heaven, and yet you are here.
So your God does something radical. He brings His eternal heavenly feast, His Son, down to you now in His Holy Supper. The two worlds are about to intersect, Heaven is about to enter earth, here in your mouth, in the body and blood of Jesus. Jesus is the feast. He is the life of the world to come. He is the kingdom, and He serves Himself to you in order to keep you in Him until the old is finally put to rest. He serves Himself to you as a foretaste of the feast to come, a foretaste of the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which shall have no end. No end to the thanksgiving. No end to Christ's giving, Christ's serving, Christ's glory. No end to seeing your God face-to-face.
God is hosting a feast! And you are His treasured guest. Come have His rich food. Come drink His well-aged wine. Come receive His life, and leave all your sin at the rail. For now is the time for Thanksgiving! In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr