By Christina Burrows
Lectionary reading for 3/29/2022: Psalm 53; Leviticus 25:1-19; Revelation 19:9-10
Selected passage for reflection: Revelation 19:9-10
Revelation 19: 9-10, NIV
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”
“You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.” - George Herbert, Love (III)
I got married in my hometown of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, almost 16 years ago. Because my husband Ted is from California, only a handful of his family and friends could fly across the Pond to celebrate with us. Ted promised his friends, “If you come to the wedding, you’ll be in the wedding!” British culture is more formal than Californian culture, so he also told them, “You need to wear a suit.” Together with our smartly dressed family and friends, we worshiped, prayed, and declared our vows in an old Anglican church across from the village cricket green. And then we drove over to an old country house overlooking gardens, woods, and green fields and feasted, with delicious food, wine, speeches, and dancing.
In Revelation 19:9, Jesus invites us to the wedding supper of the Lamb. The initiative is from Jesus, not from us. He is the gracious host. He invites us, he gives us the right clothes to wear, fine linen, which stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people, fine linen, made righteous through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Dressed in our finery, we eat and celebrate together in community.
There is an “already, but not yet” element to this passage. At the Last Supper, Jesus invited us to a regular rhythm of celebrating the Eucharist, a foreshadowing of the wedding supper of the Lamb. In this season of Lent, as we participate in the Eucharist, we wait and we look forward in hope. This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you. It is not super-spiritual, there’s a very human element to this. As Eugene Peterson reminds us, “The snobbish cultivation of devout feelings of salvation that withdraws from mingling with unsavory people and trafficking with everyday things comes to grief at the eucharistic table.” Bread. Wine. Shared cups. Shared plates. Shared smells. Shared smiles. At the Table, we share with every other follower of Jesus, who lives, who has lived, and who will live. At the Table, we are united with Jesus, and with each other.
In verse 10, the writer tries to bow before the angel. “Don’t do that!” I once heard the theologian Gordon Fee teach on this verse in Vancouver, BC. He stands over 6 ft tall. When he yelled this phrase “Don’t do that!” we all jumped out of our seats! The angel must have looked impressive, glorious, someone we would instinctively want to worship. “Don’t do that!” “Worship God!” As Jesus resisted the Devil’s temptations in the wilderness during his 40 days of fasting, we are reminded to do the same. Jesus alone is worthy of our praise.
As Jesus invites us, we too are blessed to be able to invite others to the Table. As my husband Ted told his friends, “If you come to the wedding, you’ll be in the wedding!” Who could we invite to Jesus’ Table? I like the BLESS acronym for five missional practices that we can integrate into our everyday lives. Begin with prayer. Listen with care. Eat together. Serve in love. Share your story.
Lord Jesus, in the midst of this season of Lent, of “bright sadness,” we thank you for the blessing, the joy of your invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb. Give us the discernment in our spirits to recognize and resist worshiping anything or anyone other than you. Be present to us in your love in the messiness of the here and now, and we look forward to the day when you make all things new in the new heavens and the new earth.
About the Author
Christina Burrows is a British-Korean spiritual director, pastor, adjunct faculty at North Park Theological Seminary, and intercultural agility trainer. In her spare time, she loves going for walks in nature with family and friends. She lives in Sacramento, CA with her pastor husband, two tween girls, and their yellow labradour, Friar Tuck.