Post-Pandemic Plans

My husband just made a reservation at a favorite restaurant in Disney World for September. It is a reservation that in normal times is impossible to get, especially for a popular time in the evening, but it’s ours now. The thing I love the most about this is that we are starting to think in concrete terms about life AP….After Pandemic.

It is good to do this. Our patient watching-and-waiting is energized when we allow ourselves to think about life getting back to normal. We may still be staying at home in September, but it sure feels good to look ahead and dream.

This morning’s reading is just like that. Isaiah, the renowned Old Testament prophet, was also in a watching-and-waiting place. It was during the time when Israel was divided into a Northern Kingdom (Israel) and a Southern Kingdom (Judah). Isaiah watched as the Northern Kingdom was overrun by the Assyrians, and the Israelites were captured and taken to places far away. Judah is hanging on for now, and in the midst of this, Isaiah writes this beautiful vision of a post-diaspora celebration where all the people of the world will come to feast in Jerusalem:

Isaiah 25 (The Message)

But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
    a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
    the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,

The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
    Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
    He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
    Yes! God says so!

9-10 Also at that time, people will say,
    “Look at what’s happened! This is our God!
We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!
    This God, the one we waited for!
Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.
    God’s hand rests on this mountain!”

Oh, how this resonates today! We long for God to come and remove the shadow of doom, the PALL of doom, from our world today. We long to be able to gather together, to lay down our masks and gloves, and to feast on the finest foods and vintage wines.

The time is coming. God will wipe the tears from every face. He will remove every sign of this pandemic from his people, wherever they are. God’s hand rests on his creation, and he will show up and save us, in his time.

What are your post-pandemic dreams? What is the first thing you want to do when the restrictions are lifted and the danger has passed? What do you miss the most? Dream and plan, friends! It is good for your soul.

But for now, we wait.

And as we wait, remember this: we are one day closer to the end of this thing. Thanks be to God.

Watching and Waiting. Photo by Michelle Robertson

A Moveable Feast

Today is Christmas at my daughter’s house, two days after December 25th. We are an airline family; both my husband and youngest daughter work for the airlines. Before he was a commercial pilot, my husband flew in the Navy. From the moment we said I do, we said I don’t need to have things fall on their exact dates. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. were likely to be celebrated before or after the actual event. Family being together trumps the actual day of a special occurrence, and when our children were very little, I wondered if they were confused about the actual dates of their birthdays and Christmas. It never really mattered much in our household. Many people have to work on holidays and know exactly what I am talking about.

From a liturgical perspective, we are in the twelve days of Christmas, so today we are celebrating the third day of Christmas. Of course when you think about it, Christmas should really be celebrated every day of the year.

On the church calendar, Easter is a movable feast, while Christmas is not. (unless Daddy’s a pilot. Or Mommy’s a first responder…) The date for Easter changes every year because it is based on the lunar calendar, and was fixed by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It is set to occur on the Sunday following the first moon after the vernal equinox. Thus Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter are all movable feasts.

December 25th was chosen as the day to celebrate Christ’s birth somewhere around 336 AD. This was the day of the pagan festival of the winter solstice, where the birthday of the “unconquered sun” was celebrated. The fixing of December 25th as the Christ-mass thus shifted the day to the birthday of the “unconquered Son.”

Feasting was quite the thing among God’s people. The Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Booths, the Passover Feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of First Fruits, the Feast of Trumpets….God’s people sure do know how to party!

Isaiah 25

But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
    a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
    the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
    Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
    He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
    Yes! God says so!

This prophecy is about another movable feast. When Christ came, he brought with him the feast described in the passage. When Christ returns, this movable feast will be celebrated again. Think of it! The finest foods, vintage wines, seven courses, gourmet desserts, and NO MORE DOOM.

As you sit down to a meal today, make it a feast. Think about all that you’ve been given and think especially about the feast to come. We are living in times when the pall of gloom has darkened our nation, our spirits, and our souls. But a better feast is coming. A brighter day is promised. A gathering of God’s people is being planned even now. Will you come to the table?

Yes! God says so!

The Table is Set by Mary Anne Mong Cramer