July 18, 2021
Order of Worship:
When you start to read with an eye toward how often food appears in scripture, you’ll notice that it’s everywhere! Even the (sometimes curmudgeonly) prophets talk about Holy Meals. This week’s lesson is from one of my favorites: the prophet Isaiah gives us a vision of a rich feast for the nations. We pray the Spirit would open our hearts to the lessons of the Word.
- The part of theology that deals with the ‘end times’ is called eschatology (from the Greek word ἔσχατος, meaning “last”). In the Christian tradition, there are many different theories and speculations about how the world will end; but most of them could be divided into two camps – those that conclude in war and destruction or those that culminate in peace and restoration (or in a few cases one and then the other). Do you think much about your own eschatology? How do you expect the world to end? To borrow from the poet: with a bang or a whimper? How does your belief about what happens in the end affect how you live your life or care for creation now?
- For those familiar with the hopeful Isaiah, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the prophet’s eschatology is built around images of restoration. Read his vision in chapter 2 (verses 1-5). The nations may have come armed for war, but then they beat their weapons into tools and live in peace together. One of the most famous artistic depictions of this is a statue on the grounds of the United Nations by Yevgeny Vuchetich, who held the title “People’s Artist” of the USSR. What do you think the significance was of having a Cold War ‘enemy’ donate a piece of art to the world longing for peace? What does it mean for us to promote peace between people in our lives? How do we do that? We’ve talked before about shalom meaning not only peace but a sense that ‘all is as it should be’; what is the relationship between peace and justice?
- Isaiah’s vision happens on the Mountain of the Lord, an image he will use repeatedly. This is Zion, the Temple, the House of the Lord, the place where God dwelled on earth. For Isaiah, all elements of life would revolve around the Temple and be centered in the Word of the Lord. We sometimes talk about worship as the ‘heartbeat’ of the church, drawing us together in thanksgiving and sending us out into mission. How do you structure your days and week around worship and prayer? How do your devotionals and spiritual practices ground you in faith for every aspect of your life? How often do you find yourself needing to ‘return’ to the Word again as you continue to learn and grow in discipleship?
- “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food and well-aged wines” (verse 6). This is the Feast of the Nations; God is hosting a banquet! In one of the culminating images of Isaiah’s eschatology, all of the peoples of the world sit down to eat together. What a beautiful image of Heaven! You can imagine rich flavors and textures, different dishes from all over the world, everyone sharing and no one is hungry. How adventurous are you when it comes to eating foods from other countries? Are there unique delicacies that you crave? Why do you think mutual hospitality and appreciation of other dishes helps build relationships between cultures? What are some of your favorite foods to share?
Around your tables this week, I pray you find a foretaste of the great feast! May God continue to bless us with abundance and “let us be glad and rejoice in God’s grace!” (verse 9).
Peace to you all,
Pastor Maggie Rust