The theme of the wedding feast and its connection to Communion is something most Lutherans would probably say they know and yet few would say they understand. It’s a feast. It’s a victory celebration. These ideas make sense. Jesus has died and risen again. He has triumphed over sin and death. All of that falls very much in line with Communion being a feast of victory. That’s why we have “This is the Feast,” as one of the hymns of praise for settings 1 and 2 of the divine service in the Lutheran Service Book.
A wedding feast though? That’s a little harder to explain. Nevertheless, it is woven into those very same settings of the divine service in the Post-Communion Collect, “Gracious God our heavenly Father, You have given us a foretaste of the feast to come in the Holy Supper of Your Son’s body and blood. Keep us firm in the true faith throughout our days of pilgrimage that, on the day of His coming, we may, together with all Your saints, celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.” Communion being a “foretaste of the feast to come,” is something I’ve heard many times from parishioners. So that idea is clearly circulating. But, what does it mean? And, what does any of that have to do with marriage?
St. Paul’s assertion that marriage is a metaphor for Christ’s relationship with His church in Ephesians 5 is helpful, but it doesn’t tell us anything about Communion. For that, we need the, sadly, underused Revelation 19:6-9:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
This tells us Communion is not just a celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. It is a celebration of the end. It is a celebration of when God and man become inseparably joined together for eternity. That means Communion has a whole lot to celebrate than just forgiveness. It isn’t just life. It isn’t just eternal life. It is eternal life together with the One who wants a relationship with us such as only a husband and wife can approximate. What’s more, this isn’t just something we are looking forward to. It is something already taking place as we celebrate Communion. Christ comes to be with us and take us as His own. We celebrate what is foretold in Revelation 19 because it is already here.
Christ, the Bridegroom, wants that kind of relationship with you and so, like a groom waiting at the altar, he stands there expectantly, joyfully, for His bride to walk down the aisle to greet Him so they may be eternally joined. Consider this the next time you have Communion. As you approach the altar, the Bridegroom, who loves you more than life itself, is waiting for you.