Our church feasted this past weekend. It wasn’t a potluck lunch in the church basement (though we have those regularly, and I LOVE them). It wasn’t a nice catered buffet, though those are great too. No, this was a feast. It was sumptuous food prepared by a sous chef that was a friend of our pastor from seminary. When the theologian chef prepares your church feast, you are in for a treat.
The day started off with a sermon from John 2 on Jesus turning water into wine at the marriage celebration. If you have a chance to listen to the whole sermon, I recommend it. The basic idea is how Jesus chose that moment of lack to first show Himself as the Messiah, and it sets the tone for the whole of His ministry. There is no wine, and He provides not just an adequate supply to complete the weekend celebration, but the best wine they had tasted the whole time. When He fed the 5000, there were baskets and baskets left over. He stepped into moments of utter need and provided an abundance.
As I drove to the church feast later that evening (my husband graciously watching the boys so I could go unencumbered), I lifted my hands in praise to God as I meditated on the gospel. I finally put it into words to my good friend who sat by me at my table. How was I feeling about things, she asked. Well, I felt like feasting and celebrating, and not because anything in my life felt reconciled. I still have serious health issues. Raising my boys remains hard. It’s tough navigating spiritual abuse in my community. None of that has changed. But I think I’m getting at a soul deep level that, no matter what unresolved conflict, wound, or longing exists in my heart, the gospel always and forever makes up the difference. No lack or want or failure can separate me from the love of God. No lack or want or failure will define my life for eternity. The gospel was made for our LACK. It utterly makes up the difference. And that is great cause for rejoicing!
The first thing we did as a congregation at the feast was take communion. I relished that moment. THIS is why I am perplexed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed. And I love that God commands us to, over and over, eat the bread and drink from the cup to REMEMBER. Remember that He has made up the distance between all that perplexes us, all that we lack, and REJOICE for our lack does not define us at any stage of life.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”