Preparing for Worship: The Feast of the Repentant

Preparing for Worship: The Feast of the Repentant

John Haralson   •   May 27, 2017

Paolo Veronese, The Wedding at Cana, The Louvre

But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ 

And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:22-24

Dear Friends,

Some of the most miserable people I have met have been the least repentant people I have met. Seemingly always on the attack, non-repentant people are quick to point out the flaws and others, real and imagined.

I’ve seen it in pastors, I’ve seen it in congregants, I've seen it on the Religious Right and the Irreligious Left (I’m sure it exists on the Irreligious Right and the Religious Left as well). I’ve also seen it in my own life. 

Self-righteousness is like a warm blanket we wrap around ourselves to protect us from the chilling reality of self-discovery. It’s also exhausting. 

It’s exhausting to be hyper-vigilant about the sins of others and super-defensive about our own sins. It is a posture that offers us little or no true rest, let alone little or no true joy. instead of joy and rest, this self-righteousness results in a lot of grumbling.

In the passage we will look at this week, the opposite of grumbling is feasting. There is an infectious and overflowing joy in the life of Levi (also called Matthew). As a tax collector, Levi was a notorious sinner―someone who we would write off as a “lost cause”. For someone like Levi, there was no hope for change and acceptance.

Yet, Jesus pursues Levi. You can even say that Jesus desired Levi. He wanted Levi’s fellowship and companionship.

In response to this deeply personal invitation, Levi repents. He turns towards Jesus and receives his grace. For perhaps the first time in his life, Levi knows what it feels like to be seen, wanted, and loved. 

And, as a result of the grace he receives, Levi throws a feast. Tax collectors were notoriously rich in those days, so it was probably a pretty sweet feast. Levi instinctively knows that God’s grace is something that calls for an exorbitant celebration. And, he also grasps that God’s love for sinners doesn’t stop with him. He wants others to experience it as well. He knows that Jesus loves feasting with sinners, so he invites his sinner friends along to meet Jesus.

So...repent, for the kingdom of heaven is here.

This week: The Feast of the Repentant, Luke 5:27-32.

Liturgy is here

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,


PS Don’t forget, only one worship service this week at 9am. Grace Kids activities through 5 years old.