10/11 The 19th Sunday after Pentecost: Waiting in Hope

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.  From Isaiah 5

 Isaiah writes of the messianic age when the world will be a place of abundance and enough for all – a refuge-like shelter and shade from the storms of life: A mountain and a feast, in images of plenty and tasty food, and of the blinding dividing death-vision shroud to be destroyed by the Lord God as he clears all sadness and disgrace from humanity.  On that day, says Isaiah, we wait with yearning.  

The Church has awaited this day for centuries in the messianic feast known as the eucharist – holy communion, the feast of thanksgiving for God who both leads and follows us in the blessing grace of Jesus Christ – forgiveness supreme.  This time last year we were celebrating Homecoming and getting ready for our 190th Anniversary Feast and Gala.  These occasions were a foretaste of what Isaiah describes and which like him, we await – Caught still, in the death-vision shroud, with even our sabbath feasting interrupted in the confusion of fear that the world has become.  Caught still- and waiting……but not without hope.

Jesus’ story today of a wedding banquet echoes this mountain top feast of plenty with a lesson for us all.  The feast was ready but those called, mocked the invitation – so the doors were flung wide to bring in any and all, with the punchline: ‘For many are called, but few are chosen’.  How many times have we quoted this, and heard it quoted to justify a condescending attitude of superior attitude over someone or group? To point the finger? And that’s the punch Jesus landed in the self-righteous shroud-shade attitude of the chief priests, pharisees, – and you and me.  Whether you think you are called or (better?) – chosen – the point is this: the banquet kingdom-feast is for “all peoples”.   So, pay attention – and be READY.  The wedding garment of grace is available to everyone who asks and receives and puts on Christ Jesus- the garment of salvation.  Paul robed in Christ from the depths of a prison knew this and could proclaim a message of hope – in his tortured waiting – like brother Isaiah: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.