Week 21 miscellany: confusion at Man Utd, during graduation ceremonies, and in 30s and 40s

I went to an event at the Signet Library last week, it's very fancy.

How crazy was Louis van Gaal at Manchester United? Not as crazy as Manchester United itself, suggests Jonathan Lieu.

My friend Stef Liston wants to make his epic poem, He Was and Is and Is To Come into a fully illustrated book, and maybe even a film, and you can help him with that.

As graduands around the world start attending their graduation ceremonies, David Brooks wants more commencement speeches that help them realise how life works.

If you're way past graduating and still don't know how life works, Beth Moore's perspective for 30s and 40s could really help you.

Here's Michael Reeves telling the story of William Tyndale and the early English reformers...

Likes / Dislikes of Future / Past, and other thoughts on worship music


As the cheering crowd are faded out, strings begin to twang, thumbed casually enough to sound like tuning. John Mark McMillan's voice, deep and resonant but with a singsong style, warms up: "When the night starts pushing up the day... You're what I'm counting on." A rush of guitars is followed by the boom of electro-toms that are a near-constant throughout the album, and Live At The Knight is up and marching.

This slow-to-quick start, followed by a full blast of Guns / Napoleon, has become familiar to me over the past few months, following a friend’s recommendation. I want to talk about what I really like about this album and what I don’t. I’m going to criticise it on my own terms rather than its own, which is perhaps unfair, and if the overall impression of this article is unfavourable then it needs to be restated that I have come back to Live At The Knight far more frequently than I have many other albums that I have fewer problems with. What I’ve found interesting and exciting is that McMillan writes worship music and music that is Christian. These are not mutually exclusive terms, of course, but there’s a lot less of the latter around. I’ve enjoyed it because it tells stories, shares experiences, has thoughts. They’re not all tightly tied up with “correct” conclusions, which is fine but also causes problems. We'll get on to that later.

With barely a pause for breath, Borderlands follows Guns / Napoleon. It's rare when listening to Christian music that Bruce Springsteen is the first reference to come to mind, but he's clearly a deep influence here. Borderlands could hardly be more obvious, musically and thematically. “Living in the borderlands, I don't feel like a boy, I don't feel like a man...You've got to take what you get just to get what you can.” The narrator may not be quite as blue collar as The Boss's creations but there's the same sense of people living in the gap between reality and expectation, and a coda that concedes the irony of them failing to achieve their dream by the very methods they've been encouraged to use: “You can't hold on to love and live by the law of the jungle.” A huge drop at the chorus to a half-time rhythm led by a pounding drum beat accompanied by keys is only missing a saxophone solo to be straight from the E-Street Band's playbook. I love Springsteen so I'm totally happy with this, and I like the idea of the showing how the gospel subverts our hopes whilst offering us something better.

McMillan acknowledges this debt when he gives a mini-lecture (one of three monologues called “Dialogues”) on what real love is like, describing Springsteen's Tougher Than The Rest as his current favourite love song. He somehow plays the hipster card with one of America's most famous songwriters, “It was a huge song in the 80s, most of you didn't experience that.” (McMillan was born in 1979.) This celebration of love that's not afraid of a fight is the introduction to his wife of eleven years, Sarah. Her clear style complements the resonant tone and deeper notes of his, a lovely combination of beauty and honesty for King of My Heart and Glorious Things. This climaxes with him singing a coda whilst she maintains the chorus in King of My Heart. This is polyphony at its most basic but it’s still more than you’re usually likely to get in this type of worship music, and it sounds wonderful. There should be more harmony and multilayering in our songs about the triune God.

---

Interval I

Ironically, as that chorus and coda entwine I find two other things happening in my mind. I’m thrilled by the music but I’m troubled by the lyrics. “You are good,” declares the chorus: amen, I reply. “You’re never going to let me down,” proclaims the coda: hmm, I think. What I've come to enjoy most in listening to this album is that the lyrics are poetic, and that also makes it tricky. I fear becoming a Christian literalist at this moment, a tone-deaf believing Dawkins.

What you have to understand when this happens is that I’m listening as both a worshipper and a pastor: someone who has a responsibility to care for God’s people and help them know the truth. If they’re frequently singing, “You’re never going to let me down,” how will they respond when it seems like He has? If this line is essentially another way of saying that God is faithful (Romans 8:28) then that’s fine, but will it not also encourage the mind-set that everything in this life is going to go the way that we want it to? Many Christians certainly think this way – we’re encouraged to by the culture we live in, and too often by Christian teaching which essentially the same thing backed up by a couple of context-free Bible quotations (Romans 8:28 again?). Will God ultimately let any of His children down? No, because we’re going to be with Him forever in joy, when every wrong will have been dealt with. Does that mean that we’ll never feel let down in this life, that we’ll never have to learn that our expectations were faulty? Of course not. I can’t think of a single character in the Bible who didn’t have to deal with this. Even Jesus. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

That famous cry from the cross is a quotation from Psalm 22, a song whose first half is full of misery but which concludes with hope. Jesus knew this, of course. The Psalms contain expressions of all emotions: love, joy, anger, hope, sorrow, despair, celebration, awe, repentance. They legitimatise us coming to God whatever our mood, and give shape to how we should worship Him. There is a time for each and all. We shouldn't expect a single song to convey all truth, that's why the Bible has a songbook, and we should have one too. Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman may manage to hold a lot together in a single song but others will be more appropriate for certain times only and some will need others alongside them to give a full breadth of truth. And maybe some just shouldn't be used in public contexts because there’s just too much ambivalence.

That may seem like a lot of thinking about a single line in one song but these things matter. What we sing stays with us and even shapes us, so we should make sure that it’s good. I remember hearing Terry Virgo tell of his conversations with songwriter Stuart Townend, who laboured diligently over every word and idea in his songs, the most famous fruit of which is the mighty, joyful, and true In Christ Alone.

---

It used to be said that you only needed to know three chords to play in a punk band. Contemporary Christian Music hasn’t always required much more than that but our current obsession with novelty, the new mother of invention, bears some good fruit here. McMillan’s songs are at their best when his pitch leaps up several flights of stairs at once to hit high notes (and wave a flag whilst he does so, it seems to me) before returning to the lowlands, a juxtaposition that is also found in heavy rock beats contrasting with something lighter and ethereal.

I may sing more worship songs in 3/4 time than I realise, but it still seems wonderfully strange to hear a slow waltz as Death In His Grave proclaims the resurrection in triumph. Holy Ghost is melancholy but hopeful: the emotional sucker punch of piano and cello underneath lyrics that speak of confusion, and end without resolution. Here are many of the elements that have made me keep coming back to this album. Then comes my favourite.

Shimmering keys, with their hint of the stadium-filling singalong to come, introduce Future / Past. Its first line is one of the best I’ve ever heard. “You hold the reigns on the sun and the moon, like horses driven by kings.” Oh my, that’s a line to make me stop in my tracks, to snap my head up in attention to the Lord of all, to fall to my knees and see my life for what it is and my God for who He is. The album is worth that line alone. As promised, the chorus is hands-in-the-air huge, McMillan’s vocals leaping to falsetto heights, taking our hearts with them.

And yet. Oh no, another irritation.

---

Interval II

This one happens mid-song, whilst I’m still reeling from Future / Past’s opening line and just before we sing of God’s timelessness in the chorus. It’s this: “In this fortunate turn of events You ask me to be Your friend.” I’m happy for “fortunate” to be sung with a wry smile, and it doesn’t have to mean “lucky”, but the next bit? Does Jesus ask me to be His friend?

Kim Walker-Smith is the guest vocalist on this song. She is part of Bethel Church in California and Jesus Culture, one of the most influential churches and worship bands around in charismatic circles. I think this lyric summarises one of my key concerns with what those guys are doing (much of which is amazing and God-glorifying, by the way, and the brevity of this acknowledgement shouldn’t be taken as that meaning less than what I’m going to write more about). As I said in the first interval when wondering what to think as I told God He was never going to let me down, telling Jesus that He asked me to be His friend feels like making the wrong person the centre of attention.

The Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century recovered and popularised many great truths about Christianity, including the reality of a personal relationship with God which needed no mediating priest on earth. The Pentecostal movement that began in the early Twentieth Century promoted the vital work of the Holy Spirit in the life of individual Christians. I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for these things, and I live everyday with an awareness of God’s personal care for me. I see this in the Bible, I experience it in my own life. I also life in a culture that is incredibly self-centred, and I am therefore highly susceptible to believing that the universe and its Maker revolve around me. So to suggest that Jesus sent me a friend request, and by implication that I was the one on whom my salvation was contingent, is unhelpful.

This happens again in the encore song on Live At The Knight: McMillan’s most famous and controversial song, How He Loves. There’s enough poetry in me to cope with the metaphors, “[His] love’s like a hurricane: I am a tree”, and I somehow make it past the visceral “Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss” but the chorus finishes me off with its repetition of “He loves us, oh how He loves us.” Why do I have such a problem with this? It is true, God does love us, better than any of us comprehend! Maybe if I belonged to a harsh and unloving “Christian” tradition this song would be like balm to my soul, a gift from God, even. But for me it feels like an issue of focus once more. The trouble with singing “He loves us” again and again is that it starts to suggests that we are entirely lovely, lovable. This is the affirmation, the validation all the world craves, so it's no surprise to find it in Christian songs, but you won't find it in the Christian Scriptures.

God’s words sometimes sting whilst being sweet. Here’s what He told Israel after He rescued them from Egypt.
“It was not because you were more in number than any other people [i.e. impressive in themselves] that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
Centuries later the Old Testament prophets remained emphatically theocentric:
“For my name's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off… For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:9, 11)
The gospel preached in the New Testament is glorious news but it starts with what a terrible state we were in. We were alienated from Him (Colossians 1:21) and enemies of Him (Romans 5:10)…
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:1-5)
So it isn’t surprising that when Jesus surprisingly calls us His friends, it is He who plays the active role, He who decides that this is going to happen and sets the terms:
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (John 15:14-16)
Verses like these smash my ego and force me to put all my confidence in God. I am not loved because I am lovely but because He is merciful. I can know with certainty that I am loved, celebrating it and singing it joyfully, but I also know that the story isn’t really about me. In fact, the more I think about Him, the less I think about myself at all. Timothy Keller calls this “the freedom of self-forgetfulness.” I will sing about God in relation to myself because that’s one of the primary biblical methods of understanding and appreciating God. But it is about Him much more than it is about me. Listening again to another favourite, Guardian by Ben Cantelon, I notice that personal pronouns abound but the focus throughout remains fixed on God. It's almost entirely about what He does for us but is ultimately all about Him.

In case you were wondering, I haven’t thought of an alternative line to sing instead of “You ask me to be Your friend” yet. Perhaps this is the tension between a poetry of passion and a pastor’s desire for precision.

---

Carbon Ribs is a song about Mephibosheth, and there aren’t enough of those! Heart Runs is another stadium rock hit packed with metaphors a crowd can sing together. Then we end (ignoring the encore) where we began, with Counting On. Not for the first time, the singer is choked. A stumbling, stumbled sinner can gasp, through tears, “You’re what I’m counting on.” Yes, He is.

Review of the Premier League season 2015-16


Best league table
The may have played mind-numbingly uninspired football, only able to win three consecutive league games once all season, and seemed perpetually on the verge of disaster, but actually Manchester United were the most efficient team in the Premier League! Tom Bryant has put together a table of who, according to OPTA’s stats, made the fewest mistakes. And unlike almost every win in their season, United didn’t just scrape it or ever look like throwing it away, they romped home a full 14 points ahead of their nearest rivals. Louis van Gaal may find some vindication in this, I wish United would find another manager.

Unsung hero
Like the referee, a football is only noticed and commented on when people aren’t happy with it (cf. every international football tournament in the past two decades). Some credit should be due, therefore, to the Nike Ordem 3, which has been used to score some wonderful goals this season. Whether it’s the “Visual Power Graphic” which helped players “see and react to the ball faster”, or the “Aerowtrac grooves and micro-textured casing” which delivered “accurate flight”, the “use-welded, synthetic leather casing for optimal touch and maximum response”, or the “six-wing carbon latex air chamber for explosive acceleration and superior air retention”, it got kicked around really well.

Best kit
Stoke City occasionally played some of the best-looking football in the league, but they always looked good in their monochrome home kit. There was a pleasing simplicity about the whole thing, even the New Balance and Bet365 logos were a good fit, however much I hate betting’s insistent relationship with football. Of course this kit has already been replaced. Not long ago there was outrage when a club changed their kit design every two years, now they just quietly get on with an annual redesign and no-one seems to mention it. All the more reason to choose something rather more retro from the likes of Toffs or Kitbag.

Best commentator
I barely watch any games live on TV, so the field is restricted here. Radio Five Live have enormous strength in depth, but when Match of the Day is on I’m always happy to hear Steve Wilson's voice. He manages the tricky combination of being simultaneously descriptive and atmospheric: “Here's Martial, getting going, and when he gets going he glides”, “Mahrez... Fantastic Mr Fox!”

Best punditry
The small doses of Michael Owen I’ve experienced are enough to astound me that anyone would pay him money to talk. I’m constantly impressed by the self-control showed by the likes of Mark Chapman when they ask an interesting question to an ex-pro and get an uninteresting answer to a different question in reply. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve preferred listening to people who have been trained to write rather than those trained to play football and The Guardian Football Weekly podcast, hosted by James Richardson is often funny, and usually interesting and insightful. Everything there is seen through a slightly cynical lens, but perhaps that’s how it should be.

Irony of the season
This award is given to two equally-deserving causes: Manchester United fans wanting to replace an arrogant, defensively-minded control freak coach with Jose Mourinho, and Arsenal being fourth on Groundhog Day. Their finishing second is absolutely irrelevant to this being funny and indicative of a team who don’t know how to win a league, who have cracked every time the pressure of actually winning the thing has been on them in the past decade. For all the good he has done the club and football in this country, Arsène Wenger seems incapable of changing this.

Overturned wisdom of the season
Ex-players who got shouted at a lot, and then went on to be the ones doing the shouting, like to say that there aren't leaders in football anymore. They’ve had ample evidence to support this, and the still-fresh memories of the Class of '92, the Invincibles, and Mourinho’s first Chelsea back them up. Footballers today are pampered and overcoached, unable to think for themselves or take a game by the scruff of the neck. This has been proved nonsense by Leicester, and a supporting cast of other “middle-ranking” teams. Of course it isn’t easy to create the necessary amalgam of autonomous initiative-takers who submit themselves to a team plan but it isn’t a thing of the past.

Most disappointing celebration
“Picking the ball out of the net and carrying it back to the halfway line with an urgent look on your face” is the new “Not celebrating against your former team.” If you’ve grabbed one goal back  and need another in the 85th minute this is an understandable response to scoring. In the 35th minute, it isn’t.

Best celebration
You can't beat Nessum Dorma, and barely anyone could beat Leicester…

Week 20 miscellany: glory, transgenderism, dementia, endurance, public service broadcasting

It's nearly the end of term, which meant we had a barbecue for students

Peter Leithart explains what the ascension of Jesus means and how fundamental to Christianity it is. This is theology that sings and might even get you singing.

In exploring what is happening in the EU referendum debate, Ferdinand Mount coins the term "Brexotic", (presumably in reference to Quixotic rather than exotic).

As the latest threat to the BBC's life passes, not without some flesh wounds, David Clark considers what its implications will be.

What should Christians think about transgenderism and how should they react to the current controversies about it? Russell Moore has some wise answers.

Pictures To Share is a series of books designed to help people with dementia have conversations and even recall memories. Rebecca Armstrong met the authors.

When a church leader's legitimate desire to see their church grow becomes all they think about, they're in trouble. Mark Dever shows why endurance is needed, and what its fruits can be...

Botanics in the sunlight

I spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with my camera...











And then I had a very nice ice cream:



Week 18 miscellany: Leicester, Trump, EU, Caesar

We went to North Berwick, which wasn't as warm as it looks here

Hooray for Leicester City! Football never lacks for hyperbole but this really is one of the greatest sporting achievements. Stuart James gives us a full-length inside story.

Boo for Donald Trump! The question his likely success raises for American Christians, Should they vote for the lesser of two evils?, is one that all of us have to process, and Russell Moore has suggested some guidelines.

Hooray or boo for the EU (or something inbetween)! Daniel Webster and Alexandra Davis have made a colourful diagram to try to explain how it functions.

Heigh-ho for Shakespeare! Here is Damian Lewis as Antony in Julius Caesar, which also serves as a reminder that the second series of The Hollow Crown starts this Saturday.

Week 17 miscellany: AI, U2, Hillsborough, Boaty McBoatface, Chernobyl, dinner parties

We went to a 1920s-style ball

David Conn has written thoroughly and powerfully about the Hillsborough disaster and the scandal that followed it.

As Artificial Intelligence becomes increasingly A Thing, Dorcas Cheng-Tozun considers how what we think about human life could affect the decisions we're going to be facing.

What does the Boaty McBoatface debacle tell us about the limits of representative democracy? Uri Friedman exposes the truth.

Talking of the limits of democracy, it's not often that I'll recommend you read Frankie Boyle but he's got it pitch-perfect on the doctors' strikes and those involved.

Talking of terrible decisions that lead to destruction and death, Karin Brulliard reports on what Chernobyl looks like 30 years after a nuclear meltdown.

Talking of finding life in a wasteland (kind of), Jen Wilkin encourages us to open our homes for hospitality, rather than entertaining.

Finally, Bono loves Eugene Peterson's The Message so the two of them got together to talk about the psalms:

Live review: Tongues at La Belle Angèle


It’s an inauspicious setting for Tongues: a venue filled with old music industry types who seem to have had a long day today. Two of the band have chosen egg shakers as the first instrument they’ll play, and all in all it seems like a false start is likely. Happily, nothing could be further from the truth as they launch into You Never Knew Me, showcasing much of what makes them such an exciting and intriguing prospect. A thick groove augmented with dashes of synth and loops, and an alt-pop-perfect sense of when to choose the minor note, the opener survives the drummer losing his place and builds to a powerful climax.

What frontman and founder Tim Kwant lacks in stage banter he more than makes up for with an attention-commanding physical performance that never wavers in its intensity. Sending his vocals through a multi-effects box is just one way Tongues keep your interest piqued: they seem perpetually on the edge of a dubstep breakdown, and each of the five tracks they play contain so many elements that it seems like we’ve heard much more than we have.

Latest single Religion, basking in its 500,000 Spotify plays (“No idea how that happened,” Kwant cheerfully confesses off-stage), hits with a ruinous bassline. Heartbeat follows in the same mould but ends up in a very different place, and then Spoken For changes the feel of everything: serene, spiritual even. This is a band totally focused on doing what they want, playing with absolute conviction.

Having held us close, they take a running leap into closer and standout track, Colours In The Dark. It’s a euphoric ending, befitting a far larger stage than the one they’ve illuminated tonight.


Week 16 miscellany: celebrity deaths, leadership disasters, tribalism, glory, and a really cool plane

Are more famous people dying? Tim Harford does the unpleasant number-crunching and explains why this will probably become normal.

A question you're less likely to have asked is, "Are bots the next big thing?" Casey Newton has been doing some investigating about the future of shopping, customer services, and things like that.

Christian leaders making terrible mistakes is awful, and causes a lot of confusion and grief among those they led or knew them. Russell Moore has some wise advice on how to cope if this happens.

Do we believe what we do because we've thought it all through, or because people around us have influenced us? The Mere Fidelity team discuss tribalism in culture and church life.

Here's a Saab Gripen jet looking super-cool, thanks especially to the gyro-stabilised technology holding the camera in place:



Michael Reeves interviews John Piper about his latest book, A Peculiar Glory, which is a fascinating discussion about how the Bible shows itself to be God's Word to us:

Food for (hopeful) thought


A promise in my morning’s Bible reading grabbed me:
“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.’” (Isaiah 25:6-9)
As I chewed on this, as it were, more meals came to mind.

God put us in a fruitful garden at the first, where eating with Him in the cool of the day would surely have been part of the glorious routine (Genesis 1:29, 2:16, 3:8). We chose another meal and were thrown out of the restaurant into the wilderness. Food became scarce and hard to come by (Gensis 3:17-19).

Yet still God wanted us to eat with Him. Having rescued His people from slavery in Egypt (commemorated in the Passover meal, Exodus 12) and gathering them to Mount Sinai, He invited Moses and some of the other leaders to be with Him and eat with Him:
“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (Exodus 24:9-11)
The Old Testament priests continued this practice in the Tent of Meeting, and later the Temple. They were to represent the people before God, and when they had made sacrifices to pay for their sins, they were to eat some of what had been given (Leviticus 6:25-26, Deuteronomy 18:1). This was not mere practice, it was a promise…

Psalm 23 is famed for its description of God as a shepherd. There is a feeding theme again (“green pastures,” verse 2) but then the good shepherd becomes a master chef:
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalms 23:5)
Isaiah’s prophecy that we started with continued and developed this idea. Is it any wonder, then, that we so often read about Jesus eating with people? Matthew throws a feast for Him (Mark 2:14-15), as do Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), Simon the Leper (Mark 14:3), and Martha and Mary (John 12:1-2). God with us means us eating with God. These are unlikely guests of God, as Jesus explains in a parable:
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.” (Matthew 22:2-3)
The parable concludes with the feast being eaten by those who never thought they would be invited in, as the king says:
“‘Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.” (Matthew 22:9-10)
All of this is in Jesus’ mind when He organises a last supper with His disciples. God’s original intention that we enjoy the fruits of His creation with Him; our rejection of His generosity; His condescension in allowing us to eat in His holy presence; His promise of a banquet to come unlike any other with rich food and good wine but no tears and no death to sour the taste; His knowledge of what it will cost Him to pay for that…
“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 22:14-16)
So it isn’t just to prove that He is not a ghost that Jesus eats with the stunned disciples at several of His resurrection appearances (Luke 24:30-31, 41-43, John 21:12-13)!

We now find ourselves between meals. That glorious feast Isaiah saw is still to come. In case you had any doubt, the final book of the Bible reassures us that it is being prepared:
“And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ [Meaning Jesus and the Church] And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” (Revelation 19:9)
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.” (Revelation 22:1-2)
 Next time you take the bread and wine of communion, then, remember that you’re recalling not just the past but the future:
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
This guaranteed promise is the hope of all who accept God’s offer of a feast through Jesus. It makes every meal an opportunity for worship. The provision of energy for a few more hours is pointing to eternal life, and the joy of delicious food and drink is a brief taste of the delight you will know forever in God's presence.