Canned Good Casseroles and Christ

We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Vienna Scott, a student at Yale University.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 55:1-2
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Reflection: Canned Good Casseroles and Christ
By Vienna Scott

Coronavirus and the novelties of socially-isolated life have rocked the rhythms of our everyday. Even simple habits like eating three meals a day are remade by COVID-19. People who once went out to crowded Happy Hours are now home canning jams; the lackadaisical have embraced home workouts; all the Joneses are making sourdough. Who knew a lack of Major League Baseball would breed yeast? 

Life is recentering around it’s stripped, bare-bones necessities. For those quarantined and blessed enough to be food-secure, eating has been elevated to be a highlight of the day; each meal is a feast to be prepared with attention, creativity, and love. For those working overtime or encountering food shortages, meals are brief moments of respite. 

We are unconsciously learning the lessons of Isaiah 55. Isaiah calls us to the wine, milk, and bread. He exhorts us to feast. What does it mean to be called to feast in a time of social famine? 
Feasts combine food, relationships, and celebration. Our loaves and dishes are insufficient conditions to DIY a functional feast. We need the proper cause and company. How do we feast without fellowship? How do we buy without money? If we have no money but are commanded to spend, why spend that fictional coin on anything but bread to sustain us? 

Isaiah’s prophetic words prefigure Christ. We cannot buy without money but someone has already paid. We cannot feast on our own but someone is omnipresent. We cannot afford to nourish ourselves but someone else paid the price to sustain us. Calling us to feast is calling us to the celebration of our relationship with Christ. 

Isaiah’s exhortation speaks to us, a bloated people who have gorged on physical feasts and neglected the spiritual. With the old structures of life falling apart, there is an opportunity to rebuild a new structure with an eye towards the things that really matter. Listening, eating, and delighting in what is good is the spiritual feast. To feast in stark circumstances is to celebrate the life to come with Christ. Christ-Life is feasting. When you sit with the Holy Spirit, even casseroles from canned goods or cereal three times a day can be a celebration. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments. — Psalm 119.10

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 55 (Listen – 2:11) 
Matthew 3 (Listen – 2:17)

Read more about Fasting from the Feast
God invites us to the feast of the kingdom. But many are fasting from God’s feast in order to binge on the benefits we can wring from the world.

Read more about Fasting as a Feast
Christians have a conflicted relationship with feasting, though we seem fine with most other extravagances.

Tabernacling While Quarantined

Scripture Focus: Hebrews 3.6, 13-14
6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory…13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.

John 7.37-39
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

Isaiah 55.1 (the scripture Jesus is quoting in the above passage)
“Come, all you who are thirsty, 
come to the waters; 
you who have no money, 
buy and eat! 
buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

Reflection: Tabernacling While Quarantined
By John Tillman

Hebrews tells us that we are God’s “house” which Jesus has been placed over. The concept is a repeated theme in other New Testament writings (1 Corinthians 3.16; 1 Timothy 3.15). 

No matter what the atmosphere of our quarantine, we can remember that Jesus dwells or “tabernacles” with us. (Leviticus 26.11; Ezekiel 37.27; John 1.14; Revelation 21.3) Whatever suffering we endure, he feels it with us. Whatever joys we experience, he is celebrating with us. 

In John 7, we read of a Feast of Tabernacles celebration during Jesus’ ministry. The Feast of Tabernacles was a reminder to Israel of their dependence on God in the wilderness. It recalled the years of wandering and being a people who dwelled in tents and who worshiped a God who dwelled in tents with them.

Jesus entered this festival secretly. He misled his brothers who did not believe in him, telling them that he would not go. Then he snuck in. He then revealed himself to call attention to elements of the festival that pointed to him.

In particular, Jesus called attention to one new element. Priests would dip water from the pool of Siloam and pour it on the altar in the Temple. This symbolized salvation through the water from the rock in the desert.

In our “tents,” our quarantined homes, we may feel as if we are isolated in the wilderness. Like Israel we long for Egypt. In Egypt they didn’t know thirst. They didn’t know hunger. In the desert, Israel reevaluates Egypt. How bad was the subjugation and slavery really? 

We aren’t enslaved in our vocations in the same way Israel was. Our culture enslaves us with consumerism and greed, among other idols. We hang the carrot in front of ourselves on the treadmill and run ourselves to death. We forget our chains in our longing for chain restaurants. 

In the desert and in the Temple, Israel is offered something better. Water from the rock. The water of life. Jesus stands among us wanting to quench our thirst with Living Water. “Come to me!” Jesus cries. While we are tabernacled with him, take time to drink what he offers.

As with Jesus’ brothers, Jesus may sneak up on us and sneak into our “tabernacle.” Are we aware of him? Are we trusting in him? Will we come to him and drink?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say for ever, “Great is the Lord!” — Psalm 70.4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.Today’s Readings
Song of Songs 3 (Listen – 1:48) 
Hebrews 3 (Listen -2:25)

Read more about Presence is Precious
Practicing the presence of God means living as a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, making everywhere you set your feet holy ground.

Read more about Prayer, Our Tent of Meeting
Prayer is our tent of meeting, where the deepest thirsts of our souls may be satisfied.