Several years ago I stood before the greatest buffet line I had ever seen. It was full of fine meats, seafood (I think I overdid it at the sushi bar), pastries, fruits, veggies, and more. My plate was soon full, and I refilled it several times. This meal was over-the-top extravagant—and it was expensive. As I catered to my gluttonous desires and appetites, I wondered how much of these delicacies would go uneaten and wasted at the end of the day; how many of the people in this restaurant could not afford the same morsels I continued to place on my next fresh plate; how many more people would go unfed and hungry at the end of the day. An image frequently used for the kingdom of God is that of a feast. Jesus talks about a wedding banquet, where all in God's company, even the very least, eat their fill, drink the best wine, and experience the blessing of the Lord forever. Isaiah especially reminds us that such a feast is not exclusive but is intended and promised to all.
When salvation comes, God tears down that which separates us—like a shroud or a sheet that is ripped away. Even death, the great divider, will be swallowed up, consumed by God, as tears are wiped away, and a restored community is welcomed to the table to fill their plates in the kingdom's banquet where all are fed. Blessed are those who wait and long for such a day. Blessed are those who join in God's restoration project for all humanity. In the midst of a divided world, so broken by fear, violence, and death, the question we are left to ponder is: can we wait? If we answer yes, what will we do as we live in the meantime?
Gracious God, meet us in the meantime. When we are most discouraged, remind us of your coming, and call us into this day with courage and strength. Amen.
Isaiah 25:6-9 (NRSV)
6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.