SUNDAY DINNER WITH CHRIST
If there’s a place in the world where people gather, a place where God is admired and praised this should be the place. If there’s a gathering in the midst of the multiplied millions of gatherings, a gathering where God who gives grace, generates joy and provokes praise from the richly blessed this should be such a gathering. And if there’s a gathering where a God is sought out by troubled souls, a God who gives courage and endurance to burdened hearts and trusts them to continue to trust him—if there’s a gathering like that anywhere in the world it should be this one in this place.
A day may come when we will fix our eyes on the strength of the enemy and the vast number of its legions, on the skill and ruthlessness of its commanders and on the way such an enemy has swept the human race into a pit of hopelessness, a pit in which they brawl with one another for their very existence. That day may come but it will not be THIS day! For THIS day we have gathered to admire the Great God, to tell stories of him and learn of his faithfulness down through the ages, a faithfulness that stretches from one end of eternity to the other and expresses itself in Jesus whom we this day know as the returning King in whom we have a living hope. And we will this day in the name of the fearless Christ speak to our morbid fear, speak with power, commanding it as if it were a rabid and threatening hound: Sit! and it will obey.
A day may come when due to many disappointments, due to felt needs not provided for, due to pains long endured and that make no sense, due to failure despite many brave attempts to accomplish something fine and good, a day when we will resent God for his not being there to visibly make a difference and resenting his refusal to even explain his absence--that day may come and we will walk away emotionally worn out and no longer caring. That day may come but it will not be THIS day! For THIS day we have gathered at his bidding, trusting in his strength, to tell him that we are his companions wherever the war leads and however long it takes. And we will not turn back!
A day may come when life in this chaotic world persuades us that there's no point to any of it, that believing in a final triumph and a happy ending is a story we tell ourselves because we don't want to face the stubborn fact that nothing really changes, that we as individuals make no difference--no difference at all--and that one generation after another will continue to end up in oblivion as the mindless and uncaring universe looks on--that day may come but it will not be THIS day for THIS day we will meet and Supper with Jesus who, in that strong assuring way of his, says to us again--says it here and now, here in the midst of this world that troubles and bewilders us so, "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in me." And we will believe in him!
Here lies the scandal and the glory of our Story and the faith it brings to life in us.
A day may come when the consumer spirit may so overwhelm the Western culture that the entire religious world will want only what it wants. On that day believers, male and female, young and old who have resisted the tide of entertainment and the temptation to speak and teach and sing and write to meet the hunger for the novel, the syrupy, the “interesting” and the banal—on that day such believers may grow weary with a single Story about the one Holy One and join the fickle world that loves to sample sermons. But it will not be THIS day! For THIS day, with the certain knowledge that the Holy One meant what he said when he said: “Look unto me and be saved all you ends of the earth!” we will speak only of the Worthy One as he in generous grace, relentless love and spellbinding trust in us call us to it--TELL THEM OF ME! And those of us who speak and are convicted and chastened by the Christ of the Supper will vow to speak of HIM.
A day may come under the sound of preaching that is good-natured and banal, that is "quite interesting" and "helpful", preaching that is lecturing rather than preaching, preaching that is filled with historical, cultural and literary tidbits from Google and various places; preaching that makes no demands, that creates no holy discontent, preaching that suits the spirit of congregations that over the years have been shaped by such preaching and now want nothing more, that want nothing more because they have come to believe there IS nothing more; congregations that know no better and therefore look for no better because being misled and misshapen by such "preaching" they don't know to be able to say, "They have taken away our Lord and we don't know where they've laid him."
That day may come! For some that day may already have come!
But it will not be THIS day, not for those who are blessed to be able to see the gospeling Christ beyond the steady stream of "religious talk". To such people the living Christ who Suppers with them will speak in that Suppering about adventure against the gods, against the powers, war on behalf of a world that desperately needs light as they stumble around in darkness, a world that would love soft bright light that banishes their gloom. Such people will be blessed to take their gaze of themselves and look to Him, to Him and all he is and means and they will see themselves as a living covenant God has made for all the nations of the world and for the millions of Lazaruses lying around their doors.
And aware of their own stubborn moral flaws but fully aware that God knows about them and yet has called them to engage with Him in the world of blessing and rescue they will gospel in all the ways that are open to them. God will see this and be pleased.