The Ghost of Christmas Present.
Illustration from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Bible Readings and Devotion for November 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2020
Special Note from Pastor David Tinker:
My family will be away on vacation for several days. This devotion posting includes the readings for the time we will be away. There is only one devotion, but it is a little longer. It is based on the reading from Isaiah 25 for November 20. I look forward to our continued readings and daily devotions when I return after the weekend.
Remember that we have the Thanksgiving Eve Service on Wednesday, November 25, at 7:00 p.m. at Waldeck. I look forward to seeing you at that special night together.
Pastor David Tinker
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.
Devotion for November 20, 21, 22, and 23, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
In my growing up years my pet dog was a beagle. Beagles will pretty much eat and eat until there is no more. Instinctively they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, so they sometimes overeat if extra food is available. One time when I was a kid our family accidentally gave our dog three suppers. We were in the house at different times and each person saw an empty bowl, so each gave the dog more food. By the time of the third bowl of food our beloved beagle was done with feasting.
Feasts are deep connection points for faith for both Jews and Christians. The major Jewish holidays are associated with eating a grand meal. These include: Passover, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hoshana, Purim and the like. A wonderful supply food was connected with paradise and hope for the Jewish people.
Likewise, a wonderful meal has been associated with Christian festivals in church and our families. We celebrate well at Christmas, Easter, and our national Day of Thanksgiving. In the church we celebrate God’s gift of community as we gather for meals together.
God’s word connects the eternal hope of his people with a glorious meal for the people of God. Our reading from Isaiah chapter 25 verse six through nine, we read a prophetic word from the Lord regarding hope and salvation. The profit rights in for six: “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.”
My view of this generous meal a blessing has been colored by the book, A Christmas Carol, by Charles dickens. In his description of the Ghost of Christmas present, Dickens introduces the characters through a description of the bounteous feast. Dickens writes:
“Scrooge was awakened by a bell, and a strange voice call him by name, and bade him to enter. He obeyed. It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth had never known in Scrooge’s time, or Marley’s, or for many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see:, who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door.”
That’s the image I have of this wonderful feast spoken of and Isaiah; the feast of God’s abundant generosity offered to his people in eternity. This passage, which is often overlooked in our discussion of heaven and eternity, shows the generous nature of the Lord. Our God is not a cheap and stingy God. He is not trying to get by with the cheapest things. God knows that there is a time for abundance and joyful fellowship.
In addition to this grand feast in the future, the passage from Isaiah speaks of the vision for what life for God’s people will be. The prophecy is given in a context of great destruction and wrath for the people of Israel. They were being overrun by foreign armies and empires. Life for them was not one of plenty, but of hunger and struggle. In the midst of that God offers something altogether different: The end of death, the end of tears, the end of hunger, and division between neighbors.
The hope expressed in the Old Testament prophecy Isaiah is similar to that expressed in Revelation 22. In Revelation we receive the promise of abundant food as central to what God has in store for us. John writes more in Revelation 22, verses one and two,
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
God’s promise is that he will be provided abundant food for his people and eternity. Will not need to labor for food. We will not go hungry. The greatest source of our satisfaction in eternity is that we will be in deep fellowship with Jesus Christ for all eternity. But that feast is one for the future. What about today?
We look to two major connections with God.
1 – in the Lord’s Prayer we express our trust in the Lord to provide our daily bread. This includes food, and all that we need for life.
2 – the Holy Communion – this is a meal with bread and wine which connects us with God and each other. This is a tiny foretaste of the feast in eternity. The Holy Communion connects us with the eternal solution for our sin and broken nature. We are connected with the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. We connect with God and are united with God as we receive the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ.
We give thanks that we have been invited to this great and eternal feast with God and his people, both now and forever.
Almighty God, you provide the true bread from heaven, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant that we who have received the sacrament of his body and blood may abide in him and he in us, that we may be filled with the power of his endless life, now and forever. Amen