Learning the language of heaven

Sunday Evening

Luke 17

Æbleskiver, Small Danish dessert dumplings coo...

Æbleskiver, Small Danish dessert dumplings cooked in a special pan, mostly served during the Christmas season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.

I think this is the first time I have ever had bratwurst for coffee hour – left overs from the Oktoberfest on Saturday evening.  It’s interesting to me how those hors d’oeuvre size pieces brought to mind the warmth and pleasure of the party the night before.  A taste of the banquet that was.

Worship is a taste of the banquet that will be.  Yes, it is a taste of that last evening when Jesus broke bread and gave it to his followers saying “Do this to remember me.”  And, yes, it is a banquet of its own where God feeds God’s gathered community.  But this shared bread is not supposed to fill us with nostalgia for last night; it is to shape us by the promise of tomorrow.

I say that I would like to learn Danish – though I know I can never quite get those noises made deeply in the throat.  But it was the language of my grandparents’ home.  It was the language of great family parties, of akvavit and pickled herring, of roast pork and red cabbage and pickled red beets, of frikadeller and hakkebøf and those wonderful caramelized new potatoes, of laughter and song and toasting – and fabulous deserts.  In a way, that was my first taste of the banquet of heaven, my first taste of the world made perfect.

But I don’t learn Danish.  I haven’t sought out a class.  I haven’t tried a language course on CDs.  For me, Danish is the language of nostalgia.  If, on the other hand, I knew that I was going to go live in Denmark at some time in the future – then learning the language would be imperative.

The bread and wine of Holy Communion is a taste of the feast to come.  Worship is our language class for the future.  Here, we are learning the language of mercy and shared bread.  Here, we are learning the language of forgiveness and redemption.  Here, we are learning what it is to live free from guilt and fear.  Here, we are learning to trust the faithfulness of God – and learning to be faithful in return.

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