Lord's Day Liturgy

Feasting for Strength

Feasting is inevitable. There will be feasting. It’s not whether or not there will be a feast, but when and why.

Solomon observed that a nation’s attitude is correlated to her leaders’ feasting.

Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
and your princes feast in the morning!
Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,
and your princes feast at the proper time,
for strength and not for drunkenness.
(Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 ESV)

It is misery to a people when the party starts rather than work. This sort of feasting guts a people of motivation, which guts them, sooner or later, of justice and joy.

It is a joy to a people when the party starts in celebration of the day’s work. This sort of feasting gives gravity, a feasting fly-wheel, that pulls a people into gratitude and diligence.

So for us, we can eat and drink for tomorrow we might die in our sins, or we can eat and drink because Jesus has died for our sins and was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The bread and wine can be used for distraction from the truth, or the bread and wine can be received as gifts of truth, the elements of good news.

Let us not be those who are too weak to feast at the right time. Such feasting by faith is a participation in the blood and body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16).

The End of Many Books

Angels in the Architecture

Published in 1998, I wish I had read it that long ago. Not that I would have appreciated, or even accepted, its message back then, but if I had been teachable I might have avoided a lot of dualistic confusion and battled for a lot better things. My point here is, don’t let my mistake be yours. Get a copy, read it soon. See how the medieval weltanschauung (not that they called it that) has much for our Kuyperian (not that they called it that) living and joy. Without agreeing with every jot and tittle, this book points toward a love of truth and feasting and poetry, of submission and sphere sovereignty and the silliness of so much so-called science, of earth and work and relationships teeming with beauty and breath and blessing.

4 of 5 stars

Lord's Day Liturgy

In the Presence of Our Enemies

When we get to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), we will be blessed in the presence of friends. The Lamb will have come for his Bride, and we will be dressed in fine linen, bright and pure, which are the righteous deeds of the saints (Revelation 19:8) It will make sense on that day to feast. The Lamb will be our shepherd, the wine and the bread will be His gift.

When we are in the presence of not friends, it often doesn’t feel like the right time to feast. Of course, sometimes it isn’t. But remember the song of our shepherd in Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (verse 1)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (verse 5)

As He leads us in paths of righteousness, and even as those paths lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, He makes ready for us a feast.

The Lamb’s Table is a feast, not predicted by the psalmist, but still relevant. We are surrounded by those who do evil. We are among people who love death. As His sheep, we know that wolves howl and bite, that wolves come in among the sheep, let alone in executive, legislative, and judicial clothing. But our Shepherd gives us a taste of bread and wine here, in the presence of our enemies. He feeds our faith. He quenches our anxieties. They can watch us eat and drink, and He will lead us home.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Intermittent Feasting

I know people, they talk to me. I read things; learning is an ongoing process. One subject that has been brought to my attention from half a dozen directions is that of intermittent fasting. Probably the first time I considered the idea (though he didn’t use the term) was in Robert Capon’s book, The Supper of the Lamb, as he counseled a man who was serious about his eating and his weight not to eat for a while rather than eat/nibble health junk food, you know, something like rice cakes. There is at least anecdotal if not researched evidence stressing the benefits to the body of not eating for intervals of time. It not only makes you more hungry when it’s mealtime, it also teaches your body to use the energy it’s already got stored.

Which comes first? Eating in order to work to get hungry, or working and getting hungry so we want to eat?

There’s a sense in which we could think about the Lord’s Supper as intermittent feasting. There is a week between each time at His Table. Do we eat this food for sake of our faith and love so that we can go work, or do we work so that we’re eager for more food? It’s both, no doubt. And there is something about worshipping on the first day of the week that energizes and propels us into our responsibilities, and that’s good.

But for sake of our meditation, consider: when was the last time that we came hungry to His Table? When was the last time that we spent ourselves by faith in love on behalf of others? When have we come desperate, not doubtful, but desperate for this feast to replenish and restore and renew us?

Lord's Day Liturgy

More Melody Than Misery

It is more than possible that at least some of the Corinthians had participated in the worship of Dionysius, also known to the Romans as Bacchus. Bacchus was the god of wine and festivity and fertility, a god well known and served for centuries before Christ came. In the name of Bacchus men and women became drunk and in many cases caused destruction through frenzy and ritual unrestraint. Some of the Corinthian Christians may have brought this baggage with them to their fellowship meals.

Paul went out of his way in Ephesians 5:18 to contrast being filled with the Spirit to being filled with, another way to say “controlled by,” wine: “do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

But it is interesting to see the results of that Spirit-filling: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20). This does not sound like the death of Bacchus, it sounds like his salvation and submission to Christ. The opposite of Dionysian madness and indulgence isn’t commiseration, but melody and thankfulness.

Worshipped as a god, everything brings damnation. Seen as a servant of God, all lawful things are good for God’s glory. So were the Corinthians behaving inconsistently at the Lord’s supper? Absolutely. What would have made it consistent? Consistent would not have been misery instead of revelry, consistent would have been loving God and others joyfully in remembrance of Christ.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Be Cheered!

Over her Christmas break from college, Katie Herrington came to our Life to Life group after one of the messages on worship. The question for discussion related to any general thoughts on our Sunday morning liturgy. Katie said that while she enjoyed having communion each week, and while she appreciated the glad attitude we bring to it, she also had a difficult time not imagining us lifting our cups toward each other and saying “Cheers!”

There are differences, to be sure, between men in a bar clinking glasses for another round, or guests at a wedding reception toasting the couple, and the ordinance of communion. The difference is that it is okay not to be truly glad in the bar or at the reception. We will be judged for being half-hearted in our joy at this Table.

We won’t start saying “Cheers!” as part of our liturgy, but can we not look around when we drink the cup that shows the price of our freedom from sin and think, “Be cheered, soul! Be cheered, neighbor! Be cheered, little Christian!”? All of our true cheer, all of our lasting happiness originates in the grace of God, and that grace radiated most clearly at the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross.

Be cheered, believer! He has accomplished Your redemption and will finish the good work He began in you. That is something to eat and drink about.