All Saints Day – The Feast Awaits

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Isaiah 25:6

On this mountain,

the Lord of heavenly forces will prepare for all peoples

a rich feast, a feast of choice wines,

of select foods rich in flavor,

of choice wines well refined.

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He will swallow up on this mountain the veil that is veiling all peoples,

the shroud enshrouding all nations.

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He will swallow up death forever.

The Lord God will wipe tears from every face;

he will remove his people’s disgrace from off the whole earth,

for the Lord has spoken.

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They will say on that day,

“Look! This is our God,

for whom we have waited—

and he has saved us!

This is the Lord, for whom we have waited;

let’s be glad and rejoice in his salvation!”

O (Observation): Mt. Zion is certainly noted as a place of God’s presence in the Old Testament. The startling revelation is that ALL PEOPLES / NATIONS will be welcomed into God’s celebratory feast!

This news of hospitality and welcome was always meant for all people, but this news is doubly shocking, since God’s people have shown tendencies to close off salvation for certain peoples.

And finally, this word of salvation is Good News, because life has not turned out so well for God’s people (in Isaiah’s time) as they were witnessing the destruction of their way of life, their homes, their religion.

Good News comes…it does.

A (Application): How often have you experienced death? Has a loved one died or maybe you have experienced a metaphorical death? Either way, you know despair.

In texts like these, we can find hope once again. Against the odds and against conventional wisdom, God bursts wide the gates to heaven to all peoples.

If you are with someone who might not be able to process this Good News (because they are experiencing a death) be the mountain for them. Be the Good News not so much by your words, so much as your presence. Be present. “Don’t just do something, stand there.” (Yes, you read that right.).

The mountain remains unmoved. God resides there. And as promised, God’s Torah is written on our very hearts (Jer 31). And through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the Spirit to guide us and sustain us until we all gather in the end.

P (Prayer): Lord, guide us and give us hope now and in the age to come. Amen.

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Blessings and Curses

Photo credit here (I don’t always find a piece of art related directly to the text for the day, but today, we have found one! Read Deut 27:11-28:68)

S (Scripture): Deuteronomy 28:1 Now if you really obey the Lord your God’s voice, by carefully keeping all his commandments that I am giving you right now, then the Lord your God will set you high above all nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you and find you if you obey the Lord your God’s voice…15 But if you don’t obey the Lord your God’s voice by carefully doing all his commandments and his regulations that I am commanding you right now, all these curses will come upon you and find you…

O (Observation): God’s people are established after having been slaves for so long…for generations! They have no understanding of healthy boundaries for a person or for property. So, God sets forth the boundaries and declares what types of things should be done and what types of things should be avoided.

They assume all good blessings and all bad curses come from God, so this only makes sense to God’s people. They need strong direction in their time of uncertainty. They got it!

A (Application): I think about my own children. When young, we set strict boundaries for them. “Eat all your food! No playing in the street! Follow directions and get a treat!”

In this way of looking at blessings and curses, God’s people needed what they got: treats and warnings. Yet, as God’s people became more and more established, the idea of blessings and curses became less and less about a strict way to live, and more a guide to healthy community.

In Jesus, we start to see the true intention behind blessings and curses: healthy community. And in Jesus, start to see that one’s blessings doesn’t necessarily coordinate with how “good” one has been and one’s curses don’t necessarily coordinate with how “bad” one has been.

Instead, filled with the Holy Spirit, and with Jesus as our Guide, we simply look to God to provide and we seek to serve others, first. May we all be strong in faith and humble in spirit.

P (Prayer): Lord, we look to you for guidance and love and mercy, whether we do good or bad – well…we do both…so…uh…have mercy on us, Lord. Amen.