Every year, while I prepare the sermon for Thanksgiving morning and plot out the day’s menu with my wife, I go back and read Robert Capon’s book, The Supper of the Lamb. I do this because, like Capon, I’m a theologian and a foodie. And, like Capon, I can’t help but apply the former to the latter. I marvel at the elegance and immediacy of God’s creative, loving genius as it’s expressed from the pulpit and at the dinner table.
So, with apologies to Robert for what will be my ham-fisted attempt to sum up his thoughts about Thanksgiving, in what follows, I pray that this year, you too may enjoy the deliciousness of God’s grace in the good news of Jesus Christ. It is he who makes us groan with the weight of his glory as we push away from the table, unable to eat another bite of his succulent creation.
Even at Thanksgiving dinner, no matter how much stuff we jam into our intestinal tract, we’re still hungry. That’s because, at our baptism, God gave us an appetite. But, not for the stuff of this world. God doesn’t give us an appetite for the stuff we chew, swallow, digest, and forget. At our baptism, our Father gave us a craving for what can satisfy us today and always.
We know the food of this world is solid. We can pick it up with our fork, chew it, and swallow it. But, it struggles in us. The stuff we chew and swallow reminds us that hunger can only be satisfied for a moment. All the stuff we put into our body reminds us that the stuffing of this world can only satisfy us for today.
But, for Christians, we embrace the truth that the stuff on our fork reminds us of the world’s impermanence. It makes us nostalgic for what hasn’t happened yet. We hunger for what can satisfy beyond today. We hunger to sit at the feast, which is opened to us on the Last Day.
That’s why we pray, “Bless us, Father, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bountiful goodness through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Our prayer is an acceptance of the truth. What’s been laid out in front of us on disposable aluminum trays, in pyrex bowls, and served out of ceramic pie pans won’t satisfy us for very long.
We long for the Great Thanksgiving that hasn’t happened yet
When we pray, we pray to sit at a table where grace is received with greater thanks than Aunt Debbie’s cheesy mashed potatoes. We pray to drink so much heavenly wine that our weaknesses and fears are drowned. We pray to see that day when dry turkey meat is permanently replaced by the Lamb’s body and blood. We pray to sit at a table with other unsettled men and women who are also welcomed to the eternal Feast of the Lamb.
At the Lamb’s feast, all creation thanks and praises it’s Creator. He brings all creation together at the Supper of the Lamb to thank and praise him. He calls us to the party to eat and drink, to love and serve each other as we’re loved and served by him. At the Supper of the Lamb, all creation is brought together to sing, laugh, and rejoice at the sight of God’s gorgeous, fatherly heart made solid.
God gave us a hunger at our baptism into Christ so that now, every gravy smeared plate, every wine stain on the couch, every pie crumb ground into the carpet incites us to give thanks for God’s gorgeous, fatherly heart made solid. God gave us a hunger at our baptism into Christ so that now, all the stuff on our fork, the chewing and swallowing, the prayers, and all the thanks given, alert us to what’s yet to come.
We long for the Great Thanksgiving that hasn’t happened yet. We hunger for the Supper of the Lamb without end, and so we pray, “Bless us Father, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bountiful goodness through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
And in Jesus’ Name, God does give us His gifts, which we receive with thanksgiving today and always.
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