MID-WEEK ADVENT SERVICE
December 14, 2016 – Rev. 19:6-9
“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready! Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” 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.” (Revelation 19:6-9)
One time a member asked my wife why it is that I love mashed potatoes so much. I do love mashed potatoes with gravy. There may be two reasons. The first reason is this: that is what we were raised on. Hardly a day went by when I was growing up that we did not have mashed potatoes and gravy. You may recall that sometimes we also had gravy bread.
The other reason goes back to my days at Northwestern Prep in Watertown. When I got there in 1954 the high school students lived in the same dorm rooms and ate at the same tables with the college students. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what happened in the dining hall. The mashed potatoes started with the college junior or senior and went down the line until it came to the freshman in high school. How many mashed potatoes do you suppose were left in the bowl when it came around to the high school freshman? We would take the empty bowl and rush up to the kitchen window, hoping there were extras.
When I went home for a week end or for vacation, my mother always made mashed potatoes. After we were married, when we went to my wife’s parents for Sunday dinner, we always had mashed potatoes. Sometimes when you go to a wedding reception they will serve mashed potatoes.
I love wedding receptions – at least until the loud music starts. Everyone is dressed up and they serve food. A sit down meal when they serve you at your table is nice. At a buffet there always seems to be too much food to get on your plate. In my ministry I have attended many wedding receptions. Most of the time the bride and groom were very nice people. But I have never attended a royal wedding. I have never been there for the wedding of a prince or a princess, a king or a queen. A number of times I have watched a royal wedding on TV.
Would you like to go to a royal wedding? If Prince Harry of England would get married and invite you, would you be happy? Do you think that they would serve mashed potatoes? Well, we have a much better invitation than that. John in our text reminds us: Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
Then he adds these powerful words: These are the true words of God. What John is saying here is not something that he made up. This is no regular formal invitation. This invitation comes to us from God Himself. He has invited us to a royal wedding. He has given us special clothing to wear: Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.
This reminds us of the words which John wrote in Revelation chapter 7: Then one of the elders asked me, These in white robes – who are they and where did they come from. I answered, Sir, you know. And he said, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. John also said in chapter 6: Then each of them was given a white robe.
We call that white robe a robe of righteousness. Paul speaks about that in Romans: For in the Gospel the righteousness of God is reveled – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. That is the robe that Jesus won for us by His death on the cross.
During this Advent season each of us should confess that we don’t deserve that robe. We do not deserve to be invited to the royal wedding supper of the lamb. The fact is that we don’t deserve any blessing from the Lord. We have all been bad boys and girls who deserve only His wrath and punishment. We don’t deserve the Son of God who was born of a woman and laid in a manger.
All we deserve is to be laid in death forever and sentenced to live in the stable of eternal damnation forever. Why can we then say with the writer of Revelation: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad! For the wedding of the Lamb has come! It begins in the stable of Bethlehem. There we see the Son of God who came to prepare a banquet for us in heaven.
Jesus referred to this in our Gospel reading for tonight. He said to His disciples on that first Maundy Thursday, just before He was crucified: When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. And He said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.
Jesus thus is referring to the royal wedding – the feast. We are all invited. We are invited because Jesus has prepared the feast. He has provided the wedding attire that we need – the robes of righteousness earned with His suffering and death on the cross. Do you think they will serve mashed potatoes at this wedding feast? It doesn’t matter, because the Lord there gives us the gift of eternal life.
We should not forget that the preparation for the feast started in the stable in Bethlehem. The invitation is given in His Word. There at the royal wedding in heaven we will learn the true meaning of the hymn of praise: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory. May that be the heart and soul of your Christmas celebration!