Let’s go to dinner.
AUGUST 31, 2022
Hey, let’s go to dinner, on this edition of Key Life.
Welcome to Key Life. I’m Matthew executive producer for the program. And our host is author and seminary professor Steve Brown. The church has suffered under, do more, try harder religion for too long. And Key Life is here to proclaim that Jesus sets the captives free.
Thank you Matthew. Hi Matt. This is fun. You know what we’re doing this week if you’re just joining us. We’re looking at a short story or what started as a short story, became a play and later became a film. Babette’s Feast is the name of it. And it’s a wonderful story of God’s grace. And we’ve combined Matt and I, two texts, one from Ephesians, one from the Psalms that are the overriding text for lavish grace. Now, we have a dead religious community who are doing everything they can do to be faithful and obedient, but look like death warmed over in this dark village. They’re only 12 left and they’re going to die. So, it’s not a wonderful place. And then this nobody apparently shows up at the door and she’s something else. But the person who recommends her says she can cook. And why don’t you pick it up from there and then we’ll see God in this illustration.
Matt Heard: You know, the beauty of a story is it expands our understanding really of who God is, who we are at the gospel, too often we reduce the gospel to just a bunch of propositions. The gospel is proposition, but it’s also plot. And it’s a plot of God doing something in creation and with us front row and center, as image bearers who fall, and he’s wanting to love us back to life. And that requires something of him called grace, where he gives us not what we deserve, but what we need. And to hear about grace just propositionally sometimes doesn’t do it, but to see the stories of his grace unpacked in the lives of people, but also in a story like this, it helps me. So, we’ve got the character, her name’s Babette. Now, as we’re talking about what she does that text that you read at the beginning of the week in Psalm 103, the one that I read from Ephesians 1. Yours is on about how this God that we have is gracious. And what Paul unpacks is, he describes what that graciousness looks like. He uses the word lavish. So let’s keep that kind of behind us as a backdrop, this whole notion of extravagance, which religious people struggle with on all sorts of levels. And even those of us who would like to think we’re not religious, we still wonder is God’s grace really lavish. So, Babette has showed up on the doorstep with a letter of introduction and that introduction, as you said, from this French opera singer, Achille Papin says kind of by the way, Babette can cook. So, the sisters, these leaders of this religious sect are going to bring her in, out of their religiosity, but they’re also wanting to limit her and say, now, don’t do anything too fancy. And she lives with him for 12 years and does everything that they ask. And, she gains the love and respect to the people in town, the people and the rest of the religious community. And, but she continues to cook what they prescribe. But what they didn’t know is that she’s had a friend renewing a lottery ticket for her, every year. For a dozen years now, she’s been gone. And so, she comes to them in the summer of 1871 and says, I’ve had this friend renewing the lottery ticket and she gets a letter and
Matt Heard: she won 10,000 Francs, which back then was a lot of money. So, I had to think about 60,000. I’ve tried to look up what different people think, but lots and lots of dough. And so, the sister’s kind of, their hearts sink thinking, well, she’s going to leave. And Babette says, no, not, not yet. I, I first want to ask a favor of you. And I said, well, what is that? And, she said, well, you’re celebrating on December the 15th, your father’s 100th birthday. I would like to cook a French meal for you. And they kind of hesitate and they’re thinking, and she said, I’ve never asked a favor of you. And they said, that’s true. And so, again, motivated out of their religiosity. Well, it would probably be good for us to do that. So they say yes. And her nephew still is the chef of this ship that harbors up in Christiana, it’s now Oslo. And so, in November, she goes up to see him and put her orders in. And late November, early December shipments start coming in of boxes of bottles of wine, cases of wine, quails, live quails, all sorts of China and a turtle, a live turtle, which freaks the sisters out. And they go to their community and apologize and say, we told her, we thought it was the godly thing to do. We told her, yes, she can do this dinner for us, but now all of these, and they even brought up demonic things are coming, like the turtle, what has come upon us. And, they talked together and realized because of their religious, reputation, they can’t tell her no now. But what they do is they agree, well, we just won’t enjoy it. And we won’t talk about it. So, everybody’s great with that. And so, the night of December the 15th comes along. And, it’s been snowing, everyone shows up. There’s one additional guest though. And his name is General in the Norwegian army. And we’d met him long ago. His name is now General Lorens Lowenhielm.
And he’s not a believer.
Matt Heard: But he’s the one that dated Martine long ago. And, but he hasn’t been back since, but he’s visiting his aunt, who’s now deaf and 90 years old and she wants to come to honor the Dean who had founded this religious group. So, that makes a dozen people. And so, they all show up and they come in and she’s been redecorating the dining room, bringing in chairs cause they didn’t have a dozen. They walk in and it takes everyone’s breath away, the candles, the China, the stemware, everything that is beyond anything that this demure, gray, stoic group of people had ever experienced. And then the wine starts coming and the food starts coming. And the General is the only one who notices what these are. They’re sipping the sparkling stuff. And one of the people says, is this, what is this lemonade? And the General says, this is not lemonade, this is an 1860 Veuve Cliquot, I can’t, one of the greatest champagnes in France, I can’t believe that I’m up here in the middle of nowhere, in Norway and I’m receiving this and on and on different dishes that, like turtle soup. He says, I’m sure this is turtle soup and no one, everybody’s thinking they’ve never had turtle soup, but he recognizes there’s a dish called Blinis Demidoff that’s buck wheat cakes and caviar and sour cream. And he’s the only one that’s talking about the food. No one else is, now one thing that’s good to know is they’re all dressed in black and gray, but he’s dressed in his military uniform. You know, his wife is now, he married one of the ladies in waiting for Queen Sophia’s court. And, so he’s in royalty all the time. He’s got his full military regalia on and it’s a crimson red uniform. And so, you’ve got all of these people in black and gray and this unbeliever, who’s the only colorful one there. And he’s the only one that’s noticing the food. And there comes a point though, where he realizes there’s something else going on here, there’s a dish that comes out, that’s like a quail and puff pastry type dish called Cailles en Sarcophage. And he takes a bite of it and he’s dumbfounded. He says I’ve only had this dish one other time in my life. And it was when I was honored at a banquet in Paris at the greatest restaurant in Paris, the Cafe Oncle and it has a woman chef. And she’s the most renowned chef in all of Europe. And she’s the one that invented this dish and I cannot believe I’m having it again. And, he then has to stand up and to give a toast. And this is what he said in his toast. He says, man, my friends is frail and foolish. We have all of us been told that grace is to be found in the universe, but in our human foolishness and shortsightedness, we imagine divine grace to be finite. But the moment comes when our eyes are opened and we see and realize that grace is infinite. Grace, my friends demands nothing from us, but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude. Grace, brothers makes no conditions and singles out none of us in particular. Grace takes us all to its bosom and proclaims general amnesty.
Oh man. That is so good. And, the whole world changes because of the truth spoken by somebody who didn’t even understand what he said.
Matt Heard: Yeah. Yeah. So often people that don’t have to get over a lot of the religious numbness. They get grace quicker.
That’s so true. And that’s what this week is about. We’re talking about grace and how sometimes we miss it. What if God provided a meal for you like that? What if God, knowing that you’re a sinner, knowing that you wear gray, knowing that you’ve made a mess of it, what if he prepared a feast like that for you?
Matt Heard: One of the things that I think she says is reticent and reserved old people receive the gift of the Spirit that night.
Oh man. That’s so good. Hey, you think about that. Amen.
Matthew Porter: That was Steve Brown with our good friend Matt Heard, continuing to teach us about the lavishness of God’s grace as reflected in a story called Babette’s Feast. Man, this is really getting good and we’re going to wrap it all up tomorrow. Do not miss that. And just as a reminder, if you have missed any of this week’s broadcast with Steve and Matt, or if you just want to share it with a friend, be sure to catch those at Keylife.org. There’s a lot of great stuff happening there. We have a station finder tool that will let you know which radio stations near you will be playing Key Life and Steve Brown Etc. We also have transcripts for Key Life. So, you know, everything that you hear Steve or Matt or Pete or Justin teaching, you can get that word for word. Also at Keylife.org you’ll find our digital magazines, sermons, video versions of Steve Brown Etc, there’s a sign up for our weekly e-mail, even a link to our Key Life App. And all of it is still free, thanks to the generous support of listeners like you. If you’d like to donate, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. Or you can mail a donation to
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