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Friday, June 17, 2011

A Toast to Nathan and Sarah, of battles and banquets

(Very early this morning, as in 4-something a.m., we got out of bed to answer a skype call.  Heidi had graciously set it up for us, so we could offer a toast to Nathan and Sarah, at their rehearsal dinner.  Scott had only come home at 3:30 from the ICU, but he managed to offer the toast below anyway.  Sarah and I were both teary-eyed, and it was frustratingly short and awkward to connect this way, but still a great blessing to us.  In this life it is a great joy to be part of two people coming together and we were grateful to be allowed to greet them on this occasion).  Here is the toast:

Isaiah 25

O LORD, You are my God.

I will exalt You,

I will praise Your name,

For You have done wonderful things;

Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.


For you have made a city a ruin,

A fortified city a ruin,

A palace of foreigners to be a city no more;

It will never be rebuilt.

Therefore the strong people will glorify You;

The city of the terrible nations will fear You.

For you have been a strength to the poor,

A strength to the needy in his distress,

A refuge from the storm,

A shade from the heat;

For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

You will reduce the noise of aliens,

As heat in a dry place;

As heat in the shadow of a cloud,

The song of the terrible ones will be diminished.


And in this mountain

The LORD of hosts will make for all people

A feast of choice pieces,

A feast of wines on the lees,

Of fat things full of marrow,

Of well-refined wines on the lees.

And He will destroy on this mountain

The surface of the covering cast over all people,

And the veil that is spread over all nations.

He will swallow up death forever,

And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces;

The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth;

For the LORD has spoken.


And it will be said in that day:

"Behold, this is our God;

We have waited for Him,

And He will save us.

This is the LORD;

We have waited for Him;

We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."


We raise a toast to Nathan and Sarah tonight, of wines on the lees and choice marrow-filled pieces.  Isaiah 25 is breaking into our world right now in this gathering.

If there is anyplace on earth less conducive to romance than Bundibugyo, we don't know where that would be.  It is a place of frequent death, heat, discomfort, complete lack of privacy, cross-cultural stress, intense ministry demands, and much heart ache, not to mention a context of strict mission rules and pressure to not upset the balance.  The veil lays thickly over that valley.  And yet there in Bundibugyo, Nathan and Sarah found beauty in the midst of sorrow, and joy in each other in spite of the difficult context of their lives.  In the mud of poverty and hard work a seed of love was planted and grew.  This is more than just a lovely story for the two of them, it is a tangible picture of the way God's Kingdom comes, improbable, against-the-odds, persistent, with much waiting, we find that we are finally rescued from the heat and noise of the war to enter the feast laid out on the mountain. 

This evening, and tomorrow, and the rest of your lives, may you look back and see that you waited on the Lord, and he came with salvation and gladness.  May your entire lives continue in this pattern of waiting through impossible odds, and then tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.  Of battle and banquet.

Tonight is a foretaste of the final feast of the Bridegroom and bride.  The veil is torn so we can see the shadows of the ultimate reality, but it is not completely removed.  Otherwise we would be there with you instead of trying to greet you by skype from the Kenyan highlands at 4 in the morning!  We love you Nathan and Sarah and count your friendship as one of the great gifts of our life in Bundibugyo. 

May your marriage be a place where death is swallowed and tears wiped, in anticipation of the ultimate marriage banquet that ends all death and tears. 

To Nathan and Sarah, battles and banquets, Bundibugyo, team, and love!


GNOME said...


John Elwood said...

So wonderful, and so nice to be there to hear it!