Mothers’ Union Devotion Sunday 11th October 2020- Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear. Isaiah 25. 6
Whenever I hear this passage, I always have a slight giggle inside because it reminds me of a very funny conversation with my mother. One Saturday morning mum arrived on my doorstep and said – you know a lot about marrows. My mind immediately thought of all the things that I did indeed know about marrow, bone marrow. That place in the centre of your bones where your blood cells are made. I had spent my whole career in research and the NHS working on bone marrow. Growing the cells and testing them for various genetic markers present in leukaemia and lymphomas. My mind raced, who is having a bone marrow biopsy? Who is being tested for such diseases? Bracing myself for some bad news I said – Yes. My mum then reached in her bag and bought out a rather large green marrow – ‘How long do I cook this for?’ she said!
To me, just as to Isaiah, marrow meant bone marrow. In the time of Isaiah, a feast full of marrow meant the fatty parts of the animal that were usually reserved for God as a sacrifice, as they were the choicest delicacy. This idea that fatty bone marrow was good for you persisted throughout history including the preparation called Virol. Virol was created by the makers of Bovril in 1899. A delightful earthenware vessel with the following message written on the outside.
Virol, A preparation of bone marrow.
An ideal fat food for children and invalids.
Isaiah continues with the promise we would most like to hear today:
And he will destroy on this mountain
The shroud that is cast over all peoples,
The sheet that is spread over all nations:
He will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces. Isaiah 25. 7-8a
Within these words we find the eternal promise from God that although we are suffering today, there will come a time when our pain will cease and we will be able to celebrate together in the most exuberant way imaginable. Maybe not actual vintage wine and bone marrow but with the feeling of contentment and overwhelming joy, that such a feast conjured up to Isaiah’s contemporaries. We may have no control over when that day will come but while we wait in anticipation, we can take comfort from the promise that it will come eventually. And what a celebration that will be!
With love and prayers