November, 2012

The Necessity of Feasting

For me Thanksgiving evokes memories of family togetherness, a bountiful spread of food, over-indulgence until one resembles a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, and napping to the Lions or Cowboys playing football. There is much in the way I have always celebrated Thanksgiving, though, which would appear identical with the sin of gluttony. If I had to bet, I would guess that many of your are silently nodding your heads with me. Now, at the risk of sounding like a pious college freshman who has become all-knowing and all-wise through a semester of Philosophy 101 at university, may I raise a fair question for Christians? Is it right to feast so sumptuously and bountifully? Or is it bad stewardship, greedy, and gluttonous? I hope my question has not squelched all possibility of celebrating and feasting over the Thanksgiving holiday because I believe Scripture gives us good reason to celebrate with a bounteous feast.

The answer to this question rests in an attitude of worship, the practice of hospitality, and the nature of fellowship.

A feast is necessary when it is accompanied with an attitude of worship toward the God who has so generously provided. Do we look at the plenty on our table with gratitude and thankfulness to God? Is our feast in celebration of God’s provision for us? “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor 4:7). “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,” (Ps 24:1). There is nothing you have that did not come from God’s hand. Is your feast a celebration of the good and generous God who gave? If you feast with an attitude of worship, it is right to be as generous and extravagant as God has been with you.

A feast is necessary when it is accompanied with the practice of hospitality. We are called to be hospitable (Rom 12:13). This means that we practice the biblical commands to care for the widow, the fatherless, and the alien (Deut 10:18, 19; 24:19-22). If we give attention to the poor and disadvantaged we should have no reservations about feasting. Could you do more? Sure, you could always do more to serve the poor, the needy, and the disadvantaged, but we must temper this urge with the wisdom from the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, “Be not overly righteous…” (Eccl 7:16). The intention is that with the plenty God has entrusted to you, are you being generous in giving to those in need? If so, then celebrate God’s goodness of generous care by feasting.

 

A feast is necessary when it is accompanied with true fellowship. Think about all the times Jesus would share food with his disciples. It is no accident that the visual picture God has given us of Christ, his sacrifice for us, and our fellowship with him is a meal. We celebrate a feast each week when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the bread and the wine. This is a picture of the extravagant meal, the bounteous feast, the over-whelming indulgence of God’s generous grace. Through Christ we are given a seat at the table of the King. This is same kindness David showed to Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9, this is a great story, go read it!) when he gave the grandson of his enemy a seat at the table. God’s grace is bigger than our need.

The grace we have in Christ is extravagant. It is a prodigal love; a love that is lavish and wasteful. The proverbs speaks of the greed of the grave. “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied” (Prov 27:20), “The leech has two daughters; ‘Give’ and ‘Give,’ they cry. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, ‘Enough’: Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire never says, ‘Enough’” (Prov 30:15-16). It paints a picture of the bottomless pit of death. No feast would fill it. It is insatiably hungry like a Middle School boy. But the generosity of God is demonstrated in that Jesus was in grave for three days just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish (Matt 12:40). But what happened to Jonah? The great fish vomited him onto the beach. What happened to Jesus? The grave, which can never be satisfied or filled, was over-filled with the fullness of the Son of God and vomited him out. (I apologize if I just ruined your appetite.) Death was filled to the brim and overflowed with the lavishness, the immensity, the bigness of Christ. Death feasted on Christ until it was destroyed. And that feast which brought death to death brings life to us. And that gives us reason to celebrate with a feast! We have many reasons to be thankful, so we have many reasons for which to feast.

After the Election…

Election Night has come and gone. The pundits are wiping the foam from their mouths. Social media is awash with the depressed doomsayers and blissful victors. Speeches have been made and the corner is being turned to begin a new term for President Barack Obama.

For many Christians, the re-election of Pres. Obama is another sign of the moral decline of America. I have many disagreements with the current President not the least of which is that I believe the unborn has a right to life. Additionally, the President has consistently executed policies which strike at the heart of religious freedom. How now shall we live? How should we, as the Church, respond to our President? I believe the call from Scripture for the Church is to honor the President, work for justice, and hope in Christ.

We are called to honor the President. We believe in a sovereign God who has ordained our circumstances. “By me kings reign…” (Pro 8:15, emphasis mine). “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Pro 21:1). It is no accident that Barack Obama was re-elected. God did not turn on CNN last night, hear Wolf Blitzer call Ohio for Obama, and spew his drink in astonishment. This is the President God has given to the United States. We are called to honor him.

Honor does not mean endorsement. Disagreement and honor can co-exist. Keep in mind Peter’s context when he admonished the Church to honor the emperor (2 Peter 2:17). The emperor at that time? Nero, the fiddle playing, Christian executing pyromaniac. Honor that guy. Paul echoes this same idea by calling the Church to give “respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Rom 13:7). Pray for the President and other officials. As bad as you may think they are, they’re better than Nero. They make incredibly difficult decisions every day. They govern in a manner that they genuinely think is for the good of the country. They need wisdom not from pundits, polls, and advisers but from God. We pray that God would prosper the President’s good ideas and stymie his bad ones (1 Tim 2:1, 2). Pray for him and do not be tempted into the easy trap of disrespecting him (particularly through social media). With respect and honor, we will pray for our President and call him (as well as everyone else) to repent of sin and believe in Jesus Christ.

Our second response is to continue to work for justice. “Do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thess 3:13). “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Issues related to the sanctity of life and biblical definition of marriage were defeated at the ballot box, but that does not change the nature of what is just and right. We continue to work for justice for the unborn. We must work to uphold God’s norms for sexual expression. If every child is to flourish in this land, we must protect the foundational building blocks of society. President Obama was right in his acceptance speech on Tuesday night, “The role of citizens in a democracy does not end with your vote.” There are more important ways to work for justice than at the ballot box.

Thirdly, we are to find our hope in the King and not in any man. We live between the Advents of our King. He has come and defeated death and the grave. He is coming back to consummate his kingdom. “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam 7:13). We are looking with hope to the kingdom that is coming. “We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). Had the perfect candidate run for President and won the election, this admonition would be the same. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright” (Ps 20:7, 8).

The faith in a good and sovereign God which allows us to forever declare that, “Jesus is Lord!” also calls us today to say, “Honor the President.”

 

Worship This Sunday – 11/4/2012

We will have regular worship this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.

We will meet for Sunday School hour for a time of fellowship. We will do all we can to have hot coffee, tea, donuts, and bagels available. There will be no separate children’s Sunday School. We’ll all meet together.

Worship will begin at 10:30. Be neighborly and invite those around you.

As of Friday afternoon we did not have power at the church. Feel free to dress casually, comfortably, and warmly. We look forward to seeing you there.

If you need assistance getting to church or anything else. Please do not hesitate to call Pastor Donny.