On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the covering that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“See, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (New Revised Standard Version)
Mountains are a prominent and symbolic part of Holy Scripture.
Abraham sojourned to a mountain where he exhibited the pinnacle of faith in radical obedience to God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac. (Genesis 22:1-19)
The Law was given to Moses on a mountain. (Exodus 19:1-20:17)
Elijah traveled 40 days and nights to meet God on a mountain. (1 Kings 19:11-18)
Jesus preached the most famous sermon ever on a mountain. (Matthew 5-7)
Because of such references, we routinely refer to extraordinary events as “mountaintop experiences.”
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains;
your judgments are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord. (Psalm 36:5-6, NRSV)
The mountain is a contrast and antithesis to the valley of death below. It signifies God’s power and reign over all earthly rulers. On the mountain we enjoy a great feast of the soul, not to mention an actual meal full of celebration. After all, food and celebration always go together in God’s kingdom.
Whenever healing and/or emancipation happen, it’s time for a celebration. To celebrate significant events, and ritualize them so we remember them, is wise and much needed.
For the Christian, Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s good promises. In Christ, we have deliverance from guilt, shame, death, and hell. Because Jesus Christ is risen from death and has conquered the grave, our salvation is assured and made possible. And so, along with the prophet Isaiah, we proclaim the good news of peace through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7, NRSV)
Celebration of the good news keeps any sort of spiritual amnesia at bay; and when future difficulties arise, because of our joy in salvation, we are able to recall the mighty acts of God and embrace hope for the future.
If we consistently practice celebration, the redemption experienced in the past is constantly fresh, like a sumptuous meal before us in an endless buffet of goodness. We can eat anytime we want.
Banquets are rightly associated with hospitality, generosity, and fellowship. Meals in the ancient Near East culture were much more than utilitarian; eating together was (and, frankly, still is in most parts of the world) a deeply spiritual event which communicates acceptance, encouragement, and love to one another.
God is the ultimate host. He throws the best parties. God ensures that there is plenty of food, fellowship, and fun. God’s joy knows no bounds. In the middle of a world beset with sadness, loss, and grief, God’s boundless generosity swallows up people’s disgrace and mourning.
At God’s Table, no one cries alone; everyone is comforted; nobody walks away hungry; and, every person is waited upon, no matter who they are or where they have come from. Indeed, there is always room at the Table.
Through Christ’s resurrection, death has been swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:54)
Death no longer has any power to control, humiliate, or shame us into submission. Death’s threats are empty.
The Grim Reaper’s teeth have been pulled and his scythe has been broken. He is the party-pooper who is barred from entry.
There is life and abundance for all who ascend the mountain and feast with God at his Table. The invitation has gone out. The Table is spread. We need only to come.
In the joy of your Son, Jesus Christ, through his mighty resurrection and in expectation of his coming again, we offer ourselves to you, Almighty God, as holy and living sacrifices. Together with all your people everywhere and in every age, we proclaim the mystery of the faith:
Christ has died!
Christ is risen!
Christ will come again!
Send your Holy Spirit upon us, we pray, that the bread which we break and the cup which we bless may be to us a sacred communion, a holy celebration of Christ’s body, blood, and victory over death. We declare:
God has spoken!
God has acted!
God has provided!
May you gather all into your hospitable and abundant kingdom; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One benevolent God, now and forever. Amen.