Waiting Here For You - A Wedding Feast
Jesus paints a picture of the kingdom of heaven in terms that stir us to say, “I want that”
I want to be a rich crop,
I want to grow into a large tree with beautiful branches
Treasure, pearls, a net full of fish
A great feast…
Translated from their context, all of these things are desirable.
As they should be!
If we are going to talk about the Kingdom of Heaven, and sound like Jesus, the pictures we paint with our words, with our songs, our arts, worship, our own metaphors and parables, they only work, and are most accurate when they reflect both the nature of heaven and the greatest desires of our hearts.
When those two are melded together – our greatest desires congruent with the nature of heaven, then we have touched the very edge of paradise.
Over a year ago, I spoke of the endpoint of our faith.
It is something that I know it is right, but it is so hard to talk about, to find the words to express, for every word we have is laden with meaning, which is not often helpful. And yet, it need not stop us from trying to express it as best we can....
The direction we are moving, I often say, is the healing of relationships: self, God, others, and creation – But I fall short, if I stop there. Our ultimate finish…is to fall in love.
To fall in love with yourself, to fall in love with God, to fall in love with others, and to fall in love with creation.
This is where our parable will lead us.
A parable I chose for the 1st week of Advent.
For the first week is about waiting & hope – waiting in anticipation, hoping for future promises.
The parable starts with a line of separation.
Jesus embraced everyone – saints, sinners, and all of us in between, but he condemned the ways people opposed what God is seeking to do in the world, and calls us to grow by being heavenly minded, or in Paul’s words:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,
And a heavenly mindset is this:
to hope for, long for, and seek after the kingdom of heaven on this earth and during our life, as well as hoping for what is to come: the new earth, when heaven has fully overtaken everything that is broken.
The parable from this morning says, if you are on the path leading towards heaven on earth,
Luke 12:35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.
This is the first movement:
Choose to be ready as though you are a servant to a great master. “Lord” is again the title used here, which is almost always used as a reference to “the Lord our God.”
Be like those who are waiting for “the Lord our God” to return from the wedding banquet.
And the serving in the parable is to be ready to do whatever the Lord calls you to do. Literally, "tie up around your waist," which is like, “have your boots on,” ready to go:
Belting up could mean fixing a meal, turn down the bed, wash the Lord’s feet, muck out the stalls. Every household and serving job is implied here.
(None of which look like traditional worship).
In our weekly rhythms, worship is very, very important,
But it is our spirituality of the everyday that actually symbolizes our belief systems and faithfulness.
Servants of the Lord – Be ready.
The other path, the other way of being in the house of the Lord, is in vs. 39-40:
Luke 12:39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
In the parable, at this late late time of night, there will be no guests - the only ones in the house, are servants or theives.
I’ll chose to be a servant.
The second movement of the parable is the Love of God – the love of God so rich and pure.
The love of God that looks like the love of the father of prodigal sons. Though rejected, he continually seeks out his sons, longing to give them the embrace that they didn’t even know they were needing.
And the love of God that is given though it is costly,
Incarnated by the Samaritan,
giving of everything he has, for a hurt stranger,
Risking even his life by entering a Jewish town, where unjust vengeance was likely his reward.
And this morning, blessed are the servants.
37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
Blessed – makarios – it is the same word as the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…
Blessed are these who are prepared to serve the Lord, for they are in the kingdom of Heaven.
And then here comes the twist –
A twist in the tale so different from what is normal, that until God’s kingdom comes, we will always be shocked:
The lowest of the low being served by the highest of the high.
The Lord belts his robe, and the servants, like Peter, say, “May it never be!”And the Lord replies, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
But there is more…for while Jesus’ example shakes up what the world considers normal, it goes even deeper.
I call it the “uncomfortable” metaphor,
A metaphor from the movement I mentioned in the introduction, it is the metaphor of being the bride of Christ.
There are a few questions we are expected to ask of this parable:
Why a wedding feast?
Who is getting married? And related to that,
Who is the Bride?
The servants could be waiting for the Lord to return from anything, any event, but the parable says its a wedding.
One commentator notes our translation has tamed down the language; the story should say, the master “stole away,” he snuck out of the wedding feast that was still going on.
And he came to his servants who were not just waiting,
They were eagerly anticipating their master’s coming.
Since the master is coming from a wedding banquet – we know there is no food ready and yet a banquet is fed to the servants. If the master is to feed a banquet to the servants, it is from the wedding.
And as the scene unfolds in our minds, may I interject, that eschatology begins to sneak in. Eschatology is our word for the changing of all things, as we know it, but as I’ve said before, this is not the Armageddon, or great tragedy, our culture seems to advertise. Our eschatology is more of a doorway, a doorway into something wonderful,
like C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe into a new world; a new heaven, and a new earth, to use the language of Scripture.
This is a new time when God’s presence finally makes everything right. For when God shows up, that is what happens:
The kingdom of heaven breaks in and things are made right.
This was the plea of the prophet Isaiah:
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
4 From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
Isaiah: Waiting and Anticipating for the coming of the Lord.
This is our season of Advent - dedicated to renewing the hope that Christ will come again.
Our eschatology is centred on the expectant waiting for the Master; this much has been clear from the prophets,
And then Jesus adds so much more:
Like a feast and a wedding.
- A wedding shows up in Revelation
Rev. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
The bride is the new Jerusalem, but the new Jerusalem is the people who dwell within.
This is the intimacy of a marriage between God and the people.
And before this was John 14 - an engagement ceremony
John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
This is not about a new mansion and subdivision somewhere in heaven.
This is the language of engagement. "I am adding on a room to my Father’s house"…(For what purpose?)
"So we can get married and you can move in with me."
And next Jesus promises the Holy Spirit.
Which is the same as the cultural promise of betrothal –
its like a ring.
leaving something precious and valuable as a promise, until the groom comes back for the wedding.
And you may not realize how often Jesus is called the bridegroom,
When John the Baptist talks about the people following after Jesus, he says:
He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled.
Several times Jesus is called the bridegroom,
but who is the bride?
We use a metaphor from Ephesians to say the Church is the bride of Christ. And this is right, but it also loses the intimacy that is truly implied:
Each person following the path that leads to God, is walking not only on a path towards the light, but down an aisle towards something represented by a wedding with God.
The verse of a recent song I love:
This is the story of the Son of God hanging on a cross for me,
But it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea. O death, where is your sting?
And as this metaphor continues to descend upon you, I reach a point where my words fail. I don’t know how to speak of the Love of God pictured as the most perfect union in a marriage ceremony. I can only say “it is there”
I don’t know how to explain, or describe it. Neither do the commentators I read – few acknowledge the metaphor, even fewer talk about it.
This is the realm of those who can speak, write, re-present the intimacy involved with true and pure love. This is the realm of poets, of artists, of imagination,and of those who have plummed the depths of love in-describable.
Come dance with me, Beloved
God leads us out, gathers us
close, a touch, a shift
past hesitation we begin
to follow the heat, a Body
of fire that draws us in
breathless with questions
for the taste of wine, the salt of bread
souls skin hungry for the pressure, release,
the whisper of a Word
against our ear
The empty space between, full
of Presence, the Passion
discipline of step, slide, turn, glide
and turn again.
We follow with dull feet
a stiff neck not helping with
Grace, still we follow
the lead a hand warm on our back
trusting the touch
the Power tipping us into
a moment where
all balance is held
by Other strength and
then the lift to our feet again
face to Face, a Breath away.
*I do not know the source of this poem, if you do please email me so I can include the attribution.