ďThen you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.Ē (Dt. 16:11-13)
Today is Reformation Sunday. With Protestant Christians throughout the world, we give thanks to God for the 16th century Reformation. One of the central acts of the Reformation was the reform of the Mass, a restoration of the Lordís Supper to the Lordís people. What had become a superstitious and elitist cult-like activity was reformed according to Scripture, which centrally meant a recovery of this meal as a feast of thanksgiving for all of the people of God. We are gathered here as heirs of the Reformation to celebrate this High Feast of the New Covenant. This liturgy, this service of worship is a festival gathering every Lordís Day. We gather here to read and sing the Scriptures, our epic poem of victory over sin and death and evil. We sing our songs of praise and celebration; we raise our hands and sit down together at the table of the Lord to rejoice together in the salvation of our God. This feast is the pinnacle of our Sabbath; here we sit down and eat, drink, and rejoice, resting in the provision of God. This festival, this feast is all of the Old Covenant feasts and Sabbaths all grown up and glorious. As I mentioned in the exhortation this morning, one of the central features of the Reformation was the renewal of a robust mercy ministry. Cities throughout the Reformation became famous for the care of strangers, orphans, and widows. The fact the cities who restored the table of the Lord to the people of the Lord became famous for caring for orphans and widows is not an accident. When this feast is restored to the people of God, and they understand what sort of grace this is, it breaks out into the world. Feasting here means feasting everywhere. And feasting means rejoicing before the Lord not only with our families but with the strangers, the fatherless, and the widows in our midst. This bread and wine of the New Covenant is not only for the remission of your sins, but for the remission of the sins of many. So come and rejoice before the Lord, you and your sons and your daughters, and rejoice in such a way that you preparing your heart to take this feast with you into the world. This is the grace of God for you; go and be grace for the world.