CALLED TO THE MARRIAGE SUPPER (A Short Sermon on the Holy Supper)
A Sermon by Rev. Kurt Ho. Asplundh)Cataloged May 4, 1997
John “saw the Holy City New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). This is a vision of the New Church.
Why is the church pictured as a bride? Because the idea of a marriage perfectly describes the relationship between the Lord and His church. In fact, the Lord declared Himself to be the Bridegroom and Husband of the church.
In marriage there is a conjoining, or joining together, of two into one life. The marriage of the Lamb is the Lord’s marriage with the people of the church. What is true of genuine marriage is true of this marriage. We think of the mutual love of partners, their mutual confidence, understanding and trust, their shared delights and their creation of new life together. A marriage gives promise of new potential – of new uses and happiness that will be born from this relationship.
The vision of the bride and wife caused the angelic hosts to rejoice, for they knew what it meant. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). The angels saw the prospects for this marriage in the same way that we look forward to the marriage of a husband to a lovely bride.
It is said that the “bride has made herself ready.” So too the people of the church must make themselves ready for conjunction with the Lord. The New Church is established and built on earth as the men and women of the church open their minds to its truths, inviting the Lord to enter to touch their inmost thoughts and affections. In the New Church we are permitted to know the Lord and to love Him just as a wife can increasingly come to know and love the qualities of her husband.
Another essential of any true marriage is the quality of freedom in the relationship. Again, the Lord constantly respects our freedom in His marriage with the church. We are not controlled or compelled by Him. We are invited to join ourselves freely to His Will. What could be a more gentle presence in our lives? So the Lord is called a “Lamb.”
“Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:9) The Lord calls us all. Will we answer His call and find the blessings which He wants to give us? “Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the Great God” (Rev. 19:17). This is the Lord’s invitation to the New Church and to a state of spiritual conjunction with Him.
If the marriage itself is the establishment of the church, the marriage feast pictures its blessings. “To sup” means to communicate, to share together. This correspondence has its origin in ancient times when people met together for feasts of charity where they shared their blessings and communicated their delights.
The Holy Supper was instituted by the Lord that by it there might be conjunction of the church with heaven. So we are taught, “the Holy Supper is an external of the church that contains within itself an internal, and by means of this internal it conjoins the person who is in love and charity with heaven, and through heaven with the Lord” (AC 421 1).
When the Writings speak of being conjoined with heaven, they mean entering into a heavenly state of mind. Conjunction with angels involves an uplifting of our spirit into the sphere or influence of angels. This is the power of the Holy Supper. It leads us out of ourselves and above ourselves to serve the Lord. It provides us with a new strength of purpose and commitment in loving and following the Lord.
We must prepare ourselves to receive the benefits of this sacrament. We do this by putting on the beautiful garments of the bride to make ourselves ready. By the “fine linen … of the saints” is signified that those who are of the Lord’s church have the goods of life through truths from the Word. This is plainly manifest from the angels of heaven, we are told; the more they are in truths and in life according to them, the more they appear clothed in brighter garments (see AR 815).
We have been invited to come to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Let us, through spiritual reflection and by repentance of life, make ourselves ready to receive the blessings and benefits of the Lord’s second coming and of His New Church. “Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the Great God” (Rev. 19:17). Amen.
Lessons Isaiah 54:5,6, Isaiah 62:1,4,5, Rev 19:6-9 Rev 19:17, Rev 21:1,2, Rev. 21:9-11, AR
Isaiah 54:5,6 – For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of Hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
Isaiah 62:1,4,5 – For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth … Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Rev. 19:6-9 – And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Rev. 19:17 – And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the Great God …
Rev. 21:1,2 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev. 21:9-11 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God …
It is said that John “saw the holy city New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven,” here that he saw that city “prepared as a Bride adorned for her Husband,” from which it is also evident that by “Jerusalem” is meant the church, and that he saw it first as a city, and afterwards as a virgin bride, as a city representatively, and as a virgin bride spiritually, thus in a two-fold idea, one within or above the other, just as the angels do, who, when they see or hear or read in the Word of “a city,” in the idea of the lower thought perceive a city, but in the idea of the higher thought perceive the church as to doctrine; and the latter, if they desire it and pray to the Lord, they see as a virgin in beauty and clothing according to the quality of the church. Thus also it has been granted me to see the church (881).
Verse 9. And He said unto me, Write, “Happy are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” signifies an angel sent from heaven to John, and speaking with him concerning the Lord’s New Church … This was done that it might be announced on earth that the whole heaven acknowledges the Lord alone as the God of heaven, and that He alone is to be adored; also that the New Church is to be established by the Lord on the earth, as it has been established in the heavens … This is the arcanum in these words … (816).