Monday, December 28, 2009

Eucharist as Redemption of Vocation

“The LORD has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength: "Surely I will no longer give your grain as food for your enemies; and the sons of the foreigner shall not drink your new wine, for which you have labored. But those who have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD; those who have brought it together shall drink it in My holy courts.” (Is. 62:8-9)

Remember after our first parents’ sinned, God cursed their various labors in the field and in childbearing. Creation would fight against them because of sin, and it did. And because of Israel’s sin, the land was given over to their enemies. But one of the great promises of Scripture is that this will not always be. God coming in the flesh of Jesus was the firstfruits of making creation fruitful again. God embracing our nature in the incarnation and bursting out of death in the resurrection is the future that all of creation has. In Jesus, God is reconciling all things to Himself. In Jesus, God is making this world fruitful again that it might display His glory, from glory to glory. And this is why the offertory is actually a very important part of our service. The offertory leads us from the elders and deacons bring your tithes and offerings down and placing them on the table and then we join our voices together in prayer in thanksgiving and praise and making supplication and requests, and then we are here at the table and God feeds us with blessing and grace. In many traditions, to make the connection even more clear, the elements of bread and wine are also brought forward during the offertory. But the point is that in the offertory and in the prayers of the people, we offer up to God all that we are: our labors, our work, our hurts, our failures, our weakness, our strength, our sickness, our trials, our victories, and we lay it before Him. And all of these things, all that we are, even our best is all so small, so puny, so insufficient. But the curse is being turned back, and so instead of laboring and toiling in this world and watching the fruit of our labors fade away, God gives it all back and then a whole lot more. Here at this table, God enacts what He is doing in the world. He is making this world a fruitful garden again, a garden where we eat of our labors. And so God takes our offerings, our tithes, our prayers, all that we are, and then in a wonderful gracious act gives them back to us. He takes us up into Himself, and then He gives Himself to us. He doesn’t give our grain to our enemies; He doesn’t give our wine to the sons of foreigners. No, the Lord graciously invites you into His courts, and invites you to eat of your labors. Here, He says, watch me turn your little, insufficient efforts into wonderful grace for you and for many, through the new covenant in the blood of Jesus.

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