Tasting Eternity As We Feast
Words & Images by Sarah J. Hauser
Many of us will gather around the table soon to celebrate Thanksgiving. If your family is anything like mine, plates will be piled high with turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes. We’ll talk and eat and laugh and eat some more. We’ll go home with leftovers for a week. I’m already thinking about the turkey sandwich I’ll make the next day.
Thanksgiving dinner is the quintessential feast.
Feasting demonstrates bounty, abundance, provision, security, generosity, beauty, and enjoyment—all things we want to see and experience when we celebrate the holidays. But whether it’s Thanksgiving, a birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion we commemorate, we don’t celebrate merely to eat, drink, and be merry. As Christians, our celebrations around the table point to the ultimate feast we will one day enjoy in the new creation.
Isaiah 25:6–9 says:
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
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,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day,
‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.’”
We celebrate because we have the promise of eternal celebration. Our God will swallow up death forever. If that is not a reality worth celebrating, I’m not sure what is. We celebrate because we rejoice in the salvation we have received from God—for without this, any celebration on earth is temporal. But because of that salvation, our feasting this side of eternity points to the day when we will feast face to face with God himself. God throws a party for his people, a party with the richest food and the best wine. It’s a feast incomparable to any we could enjoy in this life, but one we look forward to with longing and expectation.
In A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester wrote, “The Christian community is the beginning and sign of God’s coming world—and no more so than when we eat together. Our meals are a foretaste of the future messianic banquet. Our meals reveal the identity of Jesus. Our meals are a proclamation and demonstration of God’s good news.” As we feast now, as we celebrate the mundane or extraordinary moments of our lives this side of glory, may we do so remembering what is yet to come. As new creation people, this is why we gather at the table. Our feasts provide a taste of the joy of salvation and the joy yet to be revealed when we sit at the table with Him and say, “This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
So eat and drink. Enjoy the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, the conversation and connection. Celebrate with everything that you have, and welcome others to your table. Let your laughter and fellowship be a joyful celebration that points to the eternal feast we long for in the new creation.
Roasted Squash and Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
Yield: about 6 servings
2–3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into one-inch chunks
1 cup pecan halves
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar (omit for paleo)
10 oz. chopped kale, hard stems removed
1 cup pomegranate arils (requires about one pomegranate)
Salt and pepper
Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash on a sheet pan and drizzle with 2–3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Roast for 25–30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the squash is tender and slightly browned.
Meanwhile, make the candied pecans. Add the pecan halves and the sugar to a small pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and coats the pecans. Keep a close eye on it so the sugar doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle about half of the vinaigrette over it and toss well. Let the kale sit for about 5–10 minutes, allowing the leaves to soften. Toss in the roasted squash, candied pecans, and pomegranate arils. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste, and serve with the remaining dressing.
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until needed. Shake well before using.