A Moveable Feast
Luke 13:29 ESV – And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God.
Food matters. Meals matter. Drinks matter. Our life at the table, no matter how mundane, is sacramental – a means in which we encounter the mystery of God.
Food and drink connects. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends.
3 times in scripture – it says “The Son of Man came…” 1. not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45), 2. too seek and to save the lost…(Luke 19:10) 3. Has come eating and drinking…”(Luke 7:34)
•The first 2 statements are his purpose, the 3rd is his How.
•Jesus was called a glutton and drunkard and a friend of sinners
•Jesus’s mission strategy of evangelism and discipleship was around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.
Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus eating and drinking with people:
•Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi
•Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal
•Luke 9 Jesus feeds the 5000
•Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers the law at a meal
•Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals.
•Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus
•Luke 22 is the account of the Last Supper
•Luke 24 the risen Christ has a meal with the 2 disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in jerusalem.
In Luke Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Why? It represents a shared life. These excessive meals were a type of God’s excess grace, mission, & friendship
(My memories of great meals – with family and friends, christmas, China, Paris, Mexico, Romania)
My title A Moveable Feast is best known as the memoir by Ernest Hemingway about his time in Paris in the 20’s. If you were a young aspiring writer Paris was the place to be.
But the term actually comes from the liturgical calendar. A moveable feast is a feast day without a fixed date, like Easter. In this sermon A Moveable Feast is about the ministry of Jesus. In the Gospels Jesus moves from meal to meal, feast to feast, announcing and enacting the kingdom of God.
Nearly 1/4 of the events of the Gospels occurs around a table. Everything Jesus talks about and enacts is the Kingdom of God. Healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching and teaching, forgiving sins, and the table practice of radical inclusiveness and hospitality.
•Eating and drinking with sinners was the most controversial things he did. Which was morally and ceremonially unclean, and found upon by the religious system and leaders of that day. •Holiness was defined and considered by what you ate and who you were with. Highly controversial.
•Jesus comes and blows that out of the water. Jesus comes on the scene as a movable feast.
Mark 2:15-17 ESV – 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
•Even the first Miracle of Jesus was turning the water into wine. Why? he didn’t want the feast, the wedding, the dinner to end. Keep it going.
The context of our scripture was that Jesus was asked a question about how many people would be saved. He didn’t give them a number or a percentage. He talked to them about their salvation. He said people would be surprised who.
Jesus was telling the Jews that because they couldn’t think of that as ethenicity, nationally and culturally, because they did.
Jesus described salvation as participation in the kingdom of God
Luke 13:23-30 ESV – And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
When we talk about the kingdom of God we have to use metaphors (Jesus did) – The kingdom of God is like… best understood as a Table.
The Church is not a kind of temple – The Church is a Table
•Temple is exclusive – lots of restrictions, heirarchy, status conscience, enforced purity codes, certain people are not allowed in (women, gentiles, sinners…)
•Table is inclusive – pull up a chair, affirming, family style, party, everyone is welcomed
In Jewish culture they had the feasts and they had a Tabernacle – But it was moveable. Israel wanted a temple (David,Solomon) But God didn’t want a temple. He was fine in a tent.
Jesus came on the scene and was doing temple stuff at the table
•when a person sinned they were to purchase an animal at the temple and give it to the priest to sacrifice it then you are forgiven
•But now Jesus is having a meal with sinners at the table with people and simply said, “Your sins are forgiven”
During the week prior to his death, Jesus protested, cleansed the temple and reformed the table
•Why? Only one guy (the high priest) could go into the holy of holies
Who is Jesus? He’s the incarnation of God, (To wit God was in Christ…) – the holiest of All, the Mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace, Immanuel God with us, the son of God, Jesus is God sitting at the table.
•Who can eat with God? women, the lame, sinners, tax collectors, people shamed, misfits, imperfect, people with indiscretions – the table is open to all, unlike the temple.
He takes the passover feast and reforms it – the focus is now Good Friday. It’s no longer the sacrificed lamb in Egypt, its now Jesus the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Thats the center of the salvation story at the table. It’s now Whosoever will! Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The table is now open to all! The table is no longer fenced. Through faith, baptism and obedience to Jesus
Luke 15:1-2 ESV – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Old Hymn – “Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”; You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time; He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”
I know there are several kinds of people that I will address. Some of you have never known what it means to be accepted by God, and perhaps even by anyone else. All your life you’ve been living in a performance trap, having to do this thing or that thing to gain someone’s acceptance.
Keith Hernandez was known as one of baseball’s top players. He carried a lifetime batting average of 300 and won numerous Golden Glove awards for excellence in fielding. He won a batting championship for having the highest average, the Most Valuable Player award in his league, and even the World Series. Yet with all his accomplishments, he missed out on something crucially important to him — his father’s acceptance and recognition that what he accomplished was valuable. Listen to what he had to say in a very candid interview about his relationship with his father: “One day Keith asked his father, ’Dad, I have a lifetime 300 batting average. What more do you want?’ His father replied, ’But someday you’re going to look back and say, “I could have done more.”’”
Sadly, that’s the story of many people’s lives: maybe yours. Your grades weren’t good enough. Your job isn’t good enough. Your house or car or clothes aren’t good enough. You don’t play good enough. You’re too young, or maybe you’re too old. Maybe you made some mistakes and you were pushed away.
Some of you tried to respond to God’s leading by attending church, but you still weren’t good enough, didn’t wear the right clothes or just didn’t feel like the people wanted you around. Church people have been notoriously judgmental, critical and condescending.
Today Jesus pursues the Imperfect
Romans 3:23 ESV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Eugene Peterson said, “Every congregation is a congregation of sinners. As if that weren’t bad enough, they all have sinners for pastors.”
Luke 5:31-32 ESV – And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
GraceTown needs to be about a Table, not a Temple. •••Let’s go look for people who are not included and let’s include them at GraceTown!
Song of Solomon 2:4 NIV – Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.
Romans 5:8 ESV – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
Because of GRACE, God is not holding anything against anyone and welcomes all to His Table!
2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV – 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
The Call of Salvation is not “Come and get right so God will love you and bless you” The Call of Salvation is Come! You Are Loved! God loves imperfect people, moral misfits, burned out believers, religious incompenants.
Today I want to urge you to place your trust in Christ.
In “The Whisper Test,” a lady by the name of Mary Ann Bird wrote something I want you to hear. She said, I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech. When schoolmates asked, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.
There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored — Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy — a sparkling lady. Annually we had a hearing test. … Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back — things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?” I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”
Listen to me closely as we close today: God says to every one of us in this room who is deformed by sin, “You are my son” or “You are my daughter.” How do we know this to be true? Because over and over and over in the Bible God tells us as much. He loves you, no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are.
“God’s power to save us is greater than our sin that condemns us”
I John 2:1-2 NIV – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
God won’t just take your sin away from you; He’ll put it so far away from you that you can’t find it anymore. That’s how forgiven you’ll be!
Confession of Sin
Most Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you, in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; We are truly sorry and we humbly depend. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. In Jesus Name. Amen
Psalms 103:8-12 ESV – The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;12 as far as the east is from the west,so far does he remove our transgressions from us.