Formations 07.23.2023: Coming Home

Isaiah 25

My dad spent almost his entire adult life as a high school basketball coach. My mom, in addition to being a successful and beloved high school teacher in her own right, was the team mom. While I was still a little kid, I was the team mascot.

I have lots of fond memories surrounding high school basketball, from championship games to TV interviews to my dad’s eventual induction into the Michigan High School Athletics Hall of Fame. But you know what I remember most? The times Mom and Dad would have the whole team over for supper.

Only people who’ve tried to feed a dozen or more teenage boys can understand the military-like logistics that go into such an undertaking. Mom and Grandmommy and Aunt Lena would fry chicken, mash potatoes, cook vegetables, and bake cakes and other desserts while I stacked plates and poured drinks and generally tried not to get stepped on by the towering “big kids” who’d descended upon my parents’ house. Then they’d all crowd into the living room and do a little bit of planning for the upcoming season or maybe just watch a college or pro game on TV.

I also remember the times Dad’s players came by one or two at a time. We fed them all the same, it just wasn’t quite a big an undertaking. Often, they would spend the night in our guest room.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that the reason some of these kids dropped by so often was because their home wasn’t the kind of place they wanted to be all the time. They didn’t get the kind of acceptance from their parents that I took for granted from my own. When they needed to experience a loving, functional family, ours was often their best option.

When I read in Scripture about a great banquet that God is preparing for “all peoples” (Isa 25:6), I can’t help but think about big family dinners with one or two—or twelve—extra seats at the table.

Tony Campolo wrote many thought-provoking books, but for me the one with the most memorable title is The Kingdom of God Is a Party. He argues that Christians need to move away from images of a stern and disapproving God to embrace a God who welcomes us all into the divine embrace. It’s the kind of God we see in Jesus when he eats with tax collectors and sinners and tells parables about a great banquet.

It’s also the kind of God we see in today’s lesson. On God’s holy mountain, death itself will be swallowed up and every tear will be dried as God takes away the disgrace of God’s people. In that day, the people will rejoice in the victory that God brings and bask in their redemption.

The people will eat until they’re full. They will know that they are welcome. They will be home.

Source: Tony Campolo, The Kingdom of God Is a Party (Grand Rapids MI: Nelson, 1992).


• Has your faith been shaped more by the image of a welcoming God or a disapproving God? Why do you think that is?
• What other Bible stories compare God’s kingdom to a banquet or party?
• Who is invited to this party in Isaiah 25? Who, if anyone, is excluded, and why?
• What does the imagery of a great banquet reveal about God’s intentions for the world?
• How can believers reflect the joy and festivity of God’s rule in their daily lives?
• How can we extend this joyful belongingness to others?

Darrell Pursiful is the editor of Formations. He is an adjunct professor at Mercer University and an active member of the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia.


For further resources, subscribe to the Formations Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email