The God of Great Feasting (The Joy of the Lord Is Our Strength)

full_cropped_LOTR---The-Return-of-the-King-471In an age of rampant cynicism, intense narcissism, and deep defiance toward absolutes such as truth, goodness, and beauty, the ache for passionate and rich festivity must burn ever more feverishly in our hearts. This sour world, lost in the mirrors of its vanity and drowning in the white noise of feeds, posts, snaps, and late-night binges, is in dire need of a good feast, what Tolkien saw as an evening by the fire, filled with boisterous laughter and great dancing. Or, as Lewis saw, what greater way to herald the breaking of winter than the carousing of creatures at the coming of spring? The promise of resurrection is a great promise, full and strong, breaking like the tide against this screen-drunk land.

I am fond of saying Christians, by definition, ought to be the most celebratory, revelrous, festive, merry, jubilant, glorious, and passionate beings on Earth, for we are little Christs, microcosms of the cosmos-Creator. We are followers of the Maker of laughter, the Author of baby-babble, the Sculptor of forestry, and the Inventor of the taste of s’mores. We are disciples of the One who ringed Saturn, spoke light, and lulled the raging seas. We serve the God who made music and poetry, and as we behold His glory, we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (II Cor. 3:18). As we become more and more like our wondrous Creator, the world ought to see us laugh as He laughs, forgive as He forgives, dance and sing and shout. He is the prodigal Father, excessive and exuberant in His splendor. Indeed, as His cup overflowed with His grace, so must our cups overflow with His praise, held high in joyful cheer and strong power.

The psalmist declares, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Ps. 4:7)

—“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).

—“Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations” (Ps. 57:8-9).

In Isaiah, “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Is. 55:2)

In Ecclesiastes, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love” (Eccl. 9:7, 9).

In Romans, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).

In Thessalonians, “Rejoice evermore” (I Thess. 5:16).

And from Nehemiah, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Awake, O Sleeper!

jon-huff-let-the-nations-be-glad-epJust a few weeks ago, my brother Jon Huff released a 4-song EP entitled Let the Nations Be Glad. This project focuses particularly on his various trips to the Middle East and the prayers he offered to God concerning the work of the church in reaching the lost.

Yet, this project has been in the making for over a decade. Let me explain.

My brother picked up the guitar in high school and has never really put it down since. It’s no wonder; he is a brilliant musician, writing and playing beautiful songs as if magic worked his hands. He plays effortlessly, singing and making music for the Lord like David. I’ve always admired him for this talent and have long considered him a true gift from God, both as a brother and a friend.

Many people over the next several years longed for an official recording, an album that demonstrated his incredible knack for songwriting. Though opportunities arose, the prospect never really felt right, and Jon kept the thought of recording at bay. Until now. This EP represents Jon’s heart to honor Christ through the gift he’d been given, to bless God through the blessing of music.

When I first heard these songs, I decided to write a poem that corresponded to the overall message of the album. It is called “Awake, O Sleeper”, and I’ve included it here:

“Awake, O Sleeper”

Awake, O sleeper!

And listen to the psalms of a thousand tongues, unstung

By the healing balms of grace,

Singing harmonies louder than water,

A choir formed from the global spectrum of faces,

The spirit of salvation pouring forth from the nations.

Awake, O sleeper!

Taste and see the feast of Jesus

Spread in bounty for His glory,

The smiles of the least of these at the table,

The multi-colored coats on multi-colored bodies,

Dressing the kaleidoscope of the church in all her beauty

From the reddest clay of Africa to the greens of Galilee,

The puzzle pieces of continents brought to their knees by rivers and trees,

Cheeks filled as they breathe the glorious name of Jesus in praise.

Awake, O sleeper!

And hear the voice of one crying in the wilderness,

Preparing the way of the Lord to the deserts,

Prophets in robes, suits, ties, and t-shirts,

Declaring the gospel like doctors in hospitals,

Shouting and pointing to the God that raises the dead,

Who ceases all deceasing and brings breath to the choking,

Gives song to the broken and ear to the spoken prayers of His people.

Awake, O sleeper!

And sound the alarm! Stretch out your arm

To give help to the helpless,

To build homes for the orphans and make churches from stones

‘Til the valley of dry bones is sewn together

With the thread of the blood red tether of God, the gift of His Son

Who shed rivers of grace to pull us back to the embrace of the Giver.

Awake, O sleeper. Awake.