Does the Lord’s Supper add anything to Christ’s atoning work? No, Christ died once for all. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal celebrating Christ’s atoning work; as it is also a means of strengthening our faith as we look to him, and a foretaste of the future feast. But those who take part with unrepentant hearts eat and drink judgment on themselves. (New City Catechism)
The feast awaits.
Now symbols and nutrients are divided,
vying for space in our minds.
The stomach craves what cannot sate spirit;
vine recalls dirt, bread anticipates yeast –
the work is done, the meal yet to be.
Take and eat. Eat and drink.
Bread cannot do what Spirit’s not done;
what bakes without yeast cannot rise.
Eat, recall; drink and trust:
what’s done has been done
and will prove true
when symbol and food can be one.
When I was younger, comfortable in low-evangelical churches where Lent was not observed, the season and its observances always seemed a semi-Catholic imposition. Our school chaplain would wear purple and people gave up eating sugar. That was mostly all I knew about it.
When I came slowly to understand its value, it came with the recognition that you gave up in order to take up. You ate less sugar and prayed more; you gave up time-consuming activities to study the Bible. It was not a matter of fasting for fasting’s sake. It was a matter of fasting from that which was not helpful to feast on that which was.
This is the theme of today’s song from Page CXVI‘s forthcoming “Lent to Maundy Thursday” – a magnificently beautiful song which takes as its theme the kind of sentiment expressed in this meditation by American pastor and writer William Arthur Ward. I hope that this song and my accompanying poem can help you think through what ways you might draw closer to God this Lent and how we can better feast upon Him.
Saturday Before Lent
the world’s asleep with sirens and
the truth is whispering through the sleepy day.
sweet doom abounds in sinking ground
and quicksand-dreams’ oblivion draws you.
your hands are slippery and the night
will try and try to snatch day from your grasp.
false comforts and discomforts come
to seize the fallow mind. Pray; stay awake.
the bridegroom’s near; He gives us food
for every need. So find your fill in Him.
Each year I give a present and a poem to my Year 12 Literature class when they finish school. That time is approaching for the class of 2013, and I’ve had on my heart this year that the thing I want them most of all to finish school knowing is that God’s grace is the most abundant, rich blessing they can hope to find. Too many teenagers enter life thinking of God as a kill-joy and faith as a set of rules and obstacles. If I could tell my students one thing about God, it would be that He is rich in joy and love and that knowing Him is the greatest feast of all. I’ve tried to express something of this poem for my students.
A Better Feast
“Life,” they say, “is a wondrous feast,
A journey too, from day to night.
Adventuring from west to east.”
But time is short and must be seized:
“So run and dance while there’s still light.”
(Life, they say, is a wondrous feast.)
“Soon,” they say, “all things will cease;
Embrace the moment while you might.
Look, explore, from west to east
And take in all, from best to least.
Day soon fades, your chance is slight.
Quick, enjoy the wondrous feast!”
Grace, I say, is a better feast,
Eternity a grander sight;
Look, explore, from west to east –
Breath and time in Him increase
In ever-growing breadth and height:
Such life, I say, will be a feast,
When God pours forth from west to east.