Family Dinner is War
by David Dahl
A meal shared together is an act of war. It’s a declaration that Satan’s days are numbered. I’ve never expressed it that bluntly before.
Growing up, family dinners, holiday meals and church get-togethers were for fun—reasons to get together and enjoy some great food with people you like. Now as an adult, I see something deeper. Meals together are brief bursts of joy amid the battlefield of life.
I’m a C. S. Lewis fan. C. S. Lewis was a professor of English Literature and an amazing storyteller who died the year I was born. There is a scene in one of his children’s books, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (I have the whole series on CD if you’d like to borrow it!) that expresses this same reality: The land of Narnia was blanketed by snow. The White Witch, an evil queen who had taken over Narnia, had declared that Narnia will be a place where it is always winter but NEVER Christmas! She then came upon a party in the woods where a bunch of animals were enjoying a feast complete with plumb pudding. They were celebrating the good news brought by Father Christmas (the John the Baptist character) that Aslan (the Jesus character) had come. This was a meal celebrating that the evil Witch’s days were numbered, and that unending winter will soon end. The White Witch was horrified to hear this from those at the table. At once, she demanded the animals deny the good news, and when they refused, she turned them all into stone. This feast was to the evil witch a declaration of war.
When God’s people gather to share a meal prepared by loving hands—from the chili stewed in Dad’s crockpot to the casseroles baked to perfection in grandmother’s oven—we are making a declaration. No matter how awful the state of the world, how dire the darkness of our culture, we are the people of the Risen King. The goodness of God has triumphed. Our Savior’s tomb is empty. How could we not gather and celebrate?
But there is more! As Christians, we also gather around the table because of what will take place in the future. The prophet Isaiah records these words:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined…He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.. .” (Isaiah 25:6-8)
And don’t forget the vision in Revelation 19:6-9:
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God…”
There it is—the marriage supper of the Lamb! Read the entire chapter and you notice that this marriage feast is held amid war. This great banquet is set for God’s children redeemed by the blood of Jesus in the presence of God’s enemies. This feast that celebrates God’s victory. (You 8am worship people, remember the Hymn of Praise we sing every time we share the Lord’s Supper? “This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!” Now you know where it comes from.)
It’s no wonder that at Jesus came “eating and drinking” and sharing the table with sinners and Pharisees alike. For that, He was accused of being “a glutton and a drunkard.” (Matthew 11:19) That says something. In the face of the battles of life, God is obviously more joy-filled than people think He should be.
As you gather around the table to share a meal and as you celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Day, invite people to your table – or join someone at theirs. Then taste and see that the Lord is good. Christ has come because He loves you! Celebrate and take in every flavor. Absorb the joy around the table as it swallows up the heartache and struggles of day-to-day life. Take in the whole scene, and in the distance, you may faintly hear the great hymn we sing every communion Sunday: “This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!” Maybe you’ll remember that you are a child of the Risen King, that this meal is a rehearsal for heaven and that Satan’s days and the days wet with your tears are numbered. Christ has come! His Kingdom is here! Then you’ll understand that this meal is an act of war.
God bless your family gatherings. May God’s joy surround every table and fill your heart.
Let us all Keep and Live the Faith!
Pr. Dave Dahl
December 16, 2019
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