This Sunday at New Joy we will proclaim God’s word through our annual Reader’s Theater-style Christmas Pageant. All are welcome to participate in the pageant. If you’re looking to don a costume and perhaps even say a few lines, join us for a walk through on Friday, December 15 at 6:30pm, or simply arrive at church at 9am on Sunday to get ready.
This week’s Sermons in Progress blogpost is a brief reflection on the reading assigned for this Sunday, even though we won’t be reading it in worship.
Click below to listen to this week’s Sermons in Progress Podcast. The podcast is also available on iTunes and on Google Play.
Come to the Feast!
As a kid growing up in Lutheran churches, we often sang a hymn of praise called “This is the Feast.” It took me a few years to make the connection that it is a song about the communion feast, where Jesus is host and gives himself to all who seek him. “This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!”
At this time of year we think of feasts. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Holiday parties filled with cookies and goodies. Abundant food, hospitality, and welcome are hallmarks of this season.
In the reading assigned for this coming Sunday, Isaiah 55, we hear a powerful invitation to join in God’s own generous and abundant feast (Isaiah 55:1-3).
All of you who are thirsty, come to the water!
Whoever has no money, come, buy food and eat!
Without money, at no cost, buy wine and milk!
Why spend money for what isn’t food,
and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me and eat what is good;
enjoy the richest of feasts.
Listen and come to me;
listen, and you will live.
This powerful invitation is also a rather peculiar invitation. Let’s take a look.
The invitation is unambiguous. “Come to the water!” You are invited. This water, this food and wine and milk – it is all for you. Come to me. COME! This passage has “radical welcome” written all over it. This is a complete and wide-reaching invitation. All are invited.
Buy … without money?
This is where it gets weird. God invites “whoever has no money” to come and buy food and eat, to buy “without money, at no cost” wine and milk. How does one buy something with no money? Such is the nature of God’s economy, where we are invited to participate even – and especially – when we have nothing or very little to offer. God provides the goods, and God provides the means, and God extends the invitation. God is like the grandparent at the candy store who sneaks their grandkid a dollar bill to buy some candy. That kid does not have the money to buy candy, yet they buy the candy anyway. They participate fully in the system, even though they don’t have means to do so. In like manner, God not only invites those without money to the feast, but also to participate in its preparation and provisioning.
Listen … and eat
“Listen carefully to me and eat what is good …. listen and you will live.” The imagery of a feast – which we also read in Isaiah 25, and later see in Jesus’ miraculous feedings and in his Last Supper – leads us ultimately to give attention to the feast of words, of Good News, that our Lord freely gives to us. The prophet Ezekiel eats a scroll to receive the words he will later preach to Israel. Jesus is the living Word of God, God’s word made flesh … on which we feast both in hearing the Word and in receiving his presence in the Lord’s Supper. Eating, listening …. these things lead us to life in Christ, for as we read and receive God’s Word through Scripture and Sacrament, we are fed with the Good News of God’s promises, and nurtured for daily lives of Christian living.
Extend and receive the invitation
This season, let us both extend and receive the invitation to come to the feast. Make the extra effort to join in the feast of God’s Word that is Christmas worship, and invite others to do so as well. For it is in receiving the Word, buying food and drink with money we do not have, and feasting on these gifts, that we grow in the promises of the One born in a manger and who comes that we might live.