On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. Isaiah 25:6
The kingdom of heaven is often described as a great banquet in the Bible, a gathering around a table. There is something that connects people when they gather around food. That it would be a comparison of the kingdom that is to come, is to say that gathering around a table is a holy act. Of course it is about more than just food. It is about the ones who are there and in sharing food, there is more than just eating and drinking. Connections are made and affirmed. It is powerful.
Babette’s Feast∗ is the story of a remarkable and lavish feast prepared for people who not only would never expect such a thing, but would see it as contrary to God’s plan. How a couple of elderly and pious Scandinavian sisters end up with a French housekeeper is remarkable detail of the story. How a French chef ends up preparing the bland and unremarkable food of their piety for years, is the back story. How she wins the French Lottery’s 10,000 franc prize but instead of using the money to return to France, uses it to prepare a feast to honor of the sister’s late father and founding pastor’s 100th birthday is the essence of the story! It is a gift that the congregation really does not want because among this pious congregation there is a certain pride in their meager provisions. However in receiving her extravagant gift, their distrust and superstitions are broken down.
It is no surprise then that Jesus took the altar, the traditional place of sacrifice and turned it into a table. This is my body given for you… This is my blood shed for you. Yes, it is the language of sacrifice. It was the tradition of the temple. Yet Jesus turns it into a meal, bread and wine, a loaf and a cup, shared. As Lutherans like to say, “a foretaste of the feast to come.”
When I first heard the song “Come to the Table,” my mind went immediately to Holy Communion. Much later I saw the video that was put together for the song by the Sidewalk Prophets and I found myself thinking of our Wednesday night supper/services….