Loving Jesus and The Meal We Could Not Make
Almost four years ago, I preached my first sermon at Christ Presbyterian Church. I had been a pastor for five years at that point, and I assumed I had a pretty good handle on preaching. The sermon was passable—decently organized and technically proficient. I preached from a manuscript, so I at least know the words I spoke were the same words I had written.
The next day, I went to lunch with my new senior pastor to debrief my sermon. He affirmed the proficiency of the sermon, but then he asked me the greatest question I have received in my adult life: “Todd, what would it look like for you to love Jesus while you preach?” I had no answer. Here I was, proud of my technically proficient sermon, and I had no idea how deeply spiritually weary and dry I was. My pastor had seen that, and he encouraged me to consider how deeply the gospel had saturated my heart and emotions.
That question set me on a journey of reflecting on the gospel more deeply, of seeing my sin more clearly, and of loving Jesus more profoundly. That journey continues (for me and for us all), but I wanted to mention a pivotal moment early on.
In October 2014, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to Nashville and attend Hutchmoot—a four-day meditation/conference/retreat on the gospel, arts, desire, and beauty. Honestly, I found the experience completely overwhelming, in large part because I began to feel there. For really the first time in my adult life. And my emotions came in a flood—longing, sorrow, frustration, joy. For so long, anger had been my primary emotion—a comfortable “friend” that made sense to me. Now, I was feeling much more deeply, and it hurt in the healing way only the gospel can.
The first night of Hutchmoot, a series of musicians in the Rabbit Room orbit took turns performing original songs. One song in particular affected me greatly—“The Meal We Could Not Make” by Son of Laughter (Chris Slaten). Fast forward to 2018, and it was released on his new album, No Story Is Over. It gave voice to my heart and built scaffolding around my experience.
This song captures a profound longing in our souls, and it reminds us that this longing will one day be satisfied. And on that day, we will all be sons and daughters of laughter—all because of Christ, whom we encounter in a meal we can not make.
Here’s the recording, and the lyrics are below.
Sit beside me now, there’s so much that we’ve shared,
like the comfort of our doubts and the safety of despair.
So many promises have just been tricks.
So many remedies have made us sick.
Do you even have it in you to savor something new?
Take and eat, all the work is done.
Stretch out your feet in the Sabbath sun.
With this bread, old ambitions break.
As we pour the wine, we feel our hungry hearts awake
to the meal we could not make.
Look around the table, behold your company.
See the needy and unlovable and many enemies.
I know that peace has never worked before,
but this feast satisfies the thirst for war,
for justice has been won, and mercy’s made us new.
Do you recognize me now? It’s been so many years
since you laid me in the ground and planted me with tears.
We used to joke about the great hereafter.
Now he’s made each of us a son of laughter.
That little hope in you is finally coming true.