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  • Writer's pictureFather Benjamin von Bredow

A feast of rich food.

A Sermon for Easter Day

March 31, 2024 at Holy Communion

Isaiah 25:6–9, Easter Anthems, Colossians 3:1–11


“The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food” (Isaiah 25:6). In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. ☩ Amen.


This morning, I feel full. Our Holy Week services have been emotionally dense, packed with symbols whose meaning overflows what my small spiritual capacity can hold onto, leaving me with a feeling almost of having exercised: tiredness, but also wellness and satisfaction.


But I am also physically full—our Easter breakfast was very satisfying! Following ancient customs, I don’t normally eat before celebrating Communion, but in Easter Day fasting can wait. I have feasted well this morning.


Even though many people will feast today who are not practicing Christians, for us the Easter meal is much more than a cultural practice. Easter feasting is a sign of our faith. It is a way of enacting in the most ordinary way—that is, by eating and drinking—the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. The Easter meal is a memorial, an action which embodies our remembrance of Jesus, who gave his flesh for the life of the world and on whom our spirits now feast by faith.


Our Old Testament Lesson invites us to “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6). It is the feast celebrating the removal of the covering veil of death which shrouds all nations (v 7–8), and of the appearance of the Lord for whose coming we have watched and waited (v 9). Feasting on rich, satisfying, filling and nourishing foods signifies our spiritual feasting on the irrepressible life which overcomes death.


Our Introit begins with 1 Corinthians 5:7–8: “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.” Here the metaphor is more particular. The original Passover lamb was sacrificed by the Israelites during the Exodus. God’s final judgement on Egypt and her gods, by which God freed his people from slavery, was to send the angel of death to every household and kill the firstborn son. But the Israelites are told to avoid this judgement by sacrificing a lamb, who would die instead of the child. Calling Jesus “Christ our Passover,” St Paul understood Jesus as the perfect lamb, who faces the angel of death on our behalf, so that we can live in freedom as the children of God.


But the comparison doesn’t end with the lamb’s death. The Israelites then gathered with their friends and neighbours to eat the Passover lamb. As the lamb’s flesh feeds their bodies, they are nourished by the spiritual goods which the lamb’s life had purchased for them: freedom, and hope of life in the Promised Land. So when St Paul compares Jesus to the Passover Lamb, he tells us to keep the feast, filling our boots with the spiritual benefits won for us by Christ’s resurrection. He names this benefit as a new life lived sincerity and truthfulness (1 Corinthians 5:8).


Our Epistle tells us how Christ’s resurrection is a feast for the spirit. He tells us to set our minds on things that are above, where the risen Christ is (Colossians 3:1–2), where no death-dealing sin has any place. Instead (as we move beyond the end of the selection we read aloud) we feast on “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, … patience, … forgiveness, … and love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (v 12–14). Our outward Easter feasting is a sign that our spirits feast on these rich foods and aged wines.


Our Collect, in the same vein, has a somewhat surprising point. You might think that we would pray to “rise to new life with Christ” or something similarly grand and jargony. But instead our prayer is surprisingly practical: “We humbly beseech you, that as you put into our minds good desires by your grace, so by your continual help we may bring that grace to good effect.” We ask for God’s help to realize our best desires, our desire for good things.


This resonates with St Paul telling us in the Epistle to “set our minds on things above,” or his related teaching that we should feast our minds on “whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy: think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). These are rich foods for the soul, and they feed the life of the resurrection.


Going forward, whether you live daily in the light of the resurrection depends on what you feast on. Today it’s the succulent ham and the hearty bird. But every day between now and the end of the ages, we embody our memorial of Christ’s resurrection by feasting on what is good and best for the life of the spirit.


More plainly: to live a risen life means filling your thoughts and your conversations with things which mean something to a life well lived. What questions occupy our mind? How about these: What are you thinking about? What has helped you recently to understand your world more wisely? How have you seen relationships strained or deepened recently, and what did that mean to you? Even more basically: What are you reading? What are you listening to, and what have you taken from it?


Too often we Christians spend our time on nothing in particular and fill our conversations with idle chatter about this or that, but we never expose any interest in the things that make life actually worth living. That is not the life of the resurrection; that is death.

We do not need to become deary, serious people who spend our days talking only about philosophy—that’s my temptation, but it’s not a good one. We do need to become people whose irrepressible commitment to living fully and well shines on our faces and echoes from our words.


I think, for example, of a psychology professor I had in seminary. You always have to be careful when greet him, because if you ask “How are you?” he would really tell you what going on with him. For him, a question about his world and how he relates to it is a question actually worth talking about and giving a considered answer to—as it should be for all of us.


As St Paul says, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above. … Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1–3).

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